[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE]Houston got the help it needed to advance to the knockout phase of the Concacaf Champions League but didn't keep up its end of the bargain. Stunned by two goals one minute apart early in the match, Houston lost its Group A finale to Salvadoran club Isidro Metapan, 3-2, on Wednesday and finished third behind Pachuca and Arabe Unido. Those two teams advance to the CCL quarterfinals to be played next February.
By beating Isidro Metapan, the Dynamo would have caught Arabe Unido in the standings and edged it for second place on goal difference, but though it rallied to tie the match, 2-2, after falling behind, it couldn't muster another goal. Houston (7 points) finished third, behind Pachuca (15), and Arabe Unido (10). Isidro Metapan (3) placed last.
Isidro Metapan came into the match winless and pointless in its first five CCL group games, yet quickly scored twice to take a 2-0 lead when Elias Montesand Anel Canales pierced the center of Houston's back line in the seventh and eighth minutes, respectively. Montes stripped Eddie Robinson of the ball to fire home with the outside of his right foot, and a mistimed tackle by Ryan Cochrane allowed Canales a one-v-one opportunity to double the lead.
Geoff Cameron got a goal back in the 28th minute when he ran onto a pass from Brian Ching, and goalie Tally Hallequalized with a long free kick that evaded counterpartJose Gonzalez just before halftime and bounced into the net to tie the score.
Misael Alfaro replaced Gonzalez in goal for the second half and Isidro Metapan regained the lead in the 56th minute when Emerson Umana's low, blistering free kick took a deflection and stung the net behind Hall. Alfaro, at 38 the oldest player on Isidro Metapan's roster, saved a header from Ching, who also steered a great feed from Stuart Holden wide in the final minutes as the host fended off Houston's desperate attacks.
Of the three MLS representatives, only Columbus has qualified for the quarterfinals. D.C. United, which has completed its schedule, is in second place in Group B and will advance if Honduran club Marathon does not beat San Juan Jabloteh in Trinidad Thursday.
United holds an edge in the second tiebreaker - goal difference in head-to-head matches -- over Marathon in case the game ends in a tie and the teams finish tied in the standings as well with 3-1-2 records and 10 points. A Marathon win eliminates D.C.
Oct. 21 in Metapan
Isidro Metapan 3 Houston 2.Goals: Montes 7, Canales 8, Umana 56; Cameron 28, Hall 45.
Isidro Metapan -Gonzalez (Alfaro, 46), Escobar (Prado, 34), Aquino, Iraheta, Aguilar (Jimenez, 73) Alvarado, Mejia, Umana, Canales, Montes.
Houston -Hall, Waibel, Cochrane, Robinson, Barrett, Ustruck (Thompson, 75), Davis (Chabala, 72), Hayden (Holden, 46), Cameron, Oduro, Ching.