Former D.C. United forward Nicholas Addlery and second-half substitute Kendall Jagdeosingh scored seven minutes apart as Puerto Rico overturned a 1-0 deficit to beat CD Marathon of Honduras, 2-1, in Bayamon Thursday.
Jerry Palacios scored for Marathon in the 41st minute on a defensive lapse by Puerto Rico, and as the second half unfolded and the Islanders flubbed chance after chance, the feeling began to set in that this might not be their night. Not since group play ended last fall had they played a competitive match, and with Marathon keeper Juan Obelar in good form, each miss escalated their disappointment.
The pressure eventually paid off in the 74th minute, when Jonathan Steele chipped a ball for Addlery to lob over the head of Obelar and into the net. Seven minutes later, Jagdeosingh - who had replaced Pablo Nunez in the 57th minute - won the match with a spectacular dribble and punishing shot. He swept into the box on the left side and cut the ball back to drill a right-footed blast that took a deflection off Milton Palacios and crashed high into the net.
Marathon hosts the second leg in San Pedro Sula on Wednesday down a goal but with an away goal to its credit. The winner played either Cruz Azul or UNAM in the semifinals.
"We have to start the first half [in Honduras] like we ended this second half," Jagdeosingh said. "We have to not get too swelled of a head. We need to keep doing what we were doing."
In the first 10 minutes, Puerto Rico earned three corner kicks, produced shots by Petter Villegas and Noah Delgado that were saved by Obelar. Palacios, who had twice threatened the Islanders' goal, scored when Oscar Bonilla launched a long cross into the penalty area that keeper Bill Gaudette failed to collect, and he steered the ball into the net with his leg.
Marathon, which leads the Honduran league standings, became the only team in the Concacaf quarterfinals to lose after taking a lead. Houston surrendered a late goal at home to Atlante and tied, 1-1; Cruz Azul scored early at home and held off Mexico City rival UNAM to win by that lone goal.
By coming back to win, Puerto Rico gave the USL a second victory in the quarterfinals. Montreal downed Santos Laguna of Mexico, 2-0, in its quarterfinal first leg.
"In the end, I think it came down to who wanted it more," Jagdeosingh said. "And in the second half, we showed that."