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MLS and Mexico split SuperLiga openers
by Ridge Mahoney, July 14th, 2008 7AM



MLS teams split their four encounters with Mexican league opposition as the second SuperLiga tournament kicked off last weekend. Houston ran up a 4-0 demolition of Atlante and New England knocked off Santos Laguna, 1-0, but Chivas USA and D.C. United fell to defending SuperLiga champion Pachuca and Chivas Guadalajara, respectively, by 2-1 scores. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney details the first round of group games.

DYNAMO DOMINATES. Without leading goalscorer Brian Ching and suffering from sporadic scoring from its forwards heading into its SuperLiga 2008 game, defending MLS champion Houston conjured up goals from midfielders similarly plagued to rout Atlante, 4-0.

Stuart Holden, goalless all season, tallied twice and Brian Mullan collected his first goal in more than a year after Dwayne DeRosario - the midfield supremo pushed up front, like Mullan, out of desperation - had opened the scoring midway through the first half.

How badly was Atlante, the 2007 Apertura champion, dominated? Houston keeper Pat Onstad encountered exactly zero shots on goal.

Rookie Geoff Cameron picked up assists on goals by Holden and Mullan, and Houston set a club record by scoring three goals in seven minutes to take a 3-0 halftime lead. DeRosario headed home a Brad Davis cross in the 20th minute; Holden added the second just 92 seconds later from a Cameron feed, and then redirected a Wade Barrett cross in the 28th minute to send most of the 13,105 fans at Robertson Stadium into a state of delirious disbelief.

Just before halftime De Rosario and Javier Munoz Mustafa scuffled and were ejected for violent conduct in the 44th minute. Both will miss Tuesday's Group A games: Houston hosts Chivas Guadalajara and Atlante plays D.C. United at RFK Stadium.

Cameron set up the fourth goal with a trademark run up the right flank. Mullan put away the low cross for his first goal since June 21 of last year.

D.C. DENIED. A power outage and a failed Jaime Moreno penalty kick: what are the odds of those events occurring in the same match?

Chivas Guadalajara left RFK Stadium Saturday night with a 2-1 win, having twice narrowly avoided goals when D.C. shots hit the woodwork, and escaping again when keeper Luis Michel repelled Moreno's attempt from the spot shortly after Luciano Emilio scored for D.C. The game drew a crowd of 22,453.

Omar Arellano and Gonzalo Pineda scored goals for Chivas Guadalajara sandwiched around the halftime interval. Emilio hit the post in the eighth minute with the game scoreless, and the post intervened again to deny Devon McTavish an equalizer 11 minutes into the second half.

A minute after McTavish's miss, D.C. keeper Zach Wells kept the score at 1-0 with a spectacular leaping save of Sergio Santana's shot, and a few minutes later, the antiquated RFK lighting system flickered out, necessitating a 19-minute delay.

After play resumed, a superb Pineda free kick, set up by a hotly disputed foul, doubled Guadalajara's lead in the 72nd minute. Emilio got that goal back four minutes later by overpowering Jose Antonio Olvera to drill a Bryan Namoff pass into the net. Emilio challenged Olvera again following the re-start, and forced a foul inside the penalty area, but Michel flew to his left and pushed away Moreno's penalty attempt.

REVS RELY ON ROOKIE. New England needed some time to exploit a man-advantage, and rookie Kheli Dube tucked away a goal in the 70th minute that held up for a 1-0 win over Santos Laguna, the Mexican Clausura 2008 champion, at Gillette Stadium in front of 10,118 fans.

Oribe Peralta tested Revs' keeper Matt Reis with a point-blank drive that the All-Star selection bravely smothered but New England provided most of the attacking impetus in the first half. Scorched several times by Sainey Nyassi, Santos midfielder Juan Pablo Rodriguez felled him with an elbow that produced a straight red card late in the first half.

Nyassi's brazen runs finally paid off when he got to the byline, and cut back a diagonal ball that Steve Ralston dummied. It ran to Dube, whose low shot deflected off goalie Oswaldo Sanchez's glove and into the net.

PACHUCA POUNCES. Playing without Brad Guzan, who was en route to England and might be just days away from securing a work permit and contract with Premier League club Aston Villa, Chivas USA took an early lead but by halftime was trailing Pachuca, 2-1, Sunday night at Home Depot Center before 14,528, and that score stood up the rest of the way.

Gerardo Rodriguez assisted on goals by Bruno Marioni and Gabriel Caballero in the 23rd and 42nd minutes, respectively, to wipe out Ante Razov's opening strike in the 16th minute. Seven players, six from Chivas USA, were cautioned in a spirited battle as the 2007 SuperLiga champion opened defense of its title by rebounding quickly after falling behind.

Chivas USA fluffed a prime opportunity in the eighth minute when Fausto Pinto was whistled and cautioned for a handball inside the penalty area. Keeper Miguel Calero went the wrong way, but Claudio Suarez's kick struck the post.

Razov nearly re-tied the game just minutes into the second half with a fierce downward header, but Calero pushed it round the post at full stretch.

When Group B play resumes Wednesday, Pachuca plays at New England and Chivas USA hosts Santos Laguna.


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