[AMERICANS ABROAD] As he came off the field shortly after the hour mark, Jose Francisco Torres shook his head. The U.S. international midfielder, named Tuesday to the provisional 30-man World Cup squad, was on the bench as Pachuca rallied for a second time to tie Toluca, 2-2, in the first leg of their semifinal series in Mexico's Torneo Bicentenario at Estadio Hidalgo.
Shortly after being cautioned in the 58th minute, Torres was replaced by Luis Montes, who played a vital role in Pachuca's second goal.
Both teams scored both of their goals in similar ways. Twice Toluca scored on free kicks lobbed into the Pachuca goalmouth by Atonio "Sinha" Naelson that backup keeper Radolfo Cota and his defenders couldn't clear. Diego Novaretti nodded a header over Cota in the 47th minute despite being marked by two defenders, and after Damian Manso equalized in the 60th minute, Hector Raul Mancilla exploited a hesitant Cota to head home another Sinha free kick from the left flank.
Pachuca re-tied the match in the 86th minute on the rebound of a shot off the goalpost, just as had been the case when Manso reacted quickest to a Damian Alvarez cross that had deceived Toluca keeper Alfredo Talavera.
It rebounded near the goal line and Manso banged it in from less than a foot away. Dario Cvitanich did the honors on the second goal, when Montes crossed from the left.
Juan Carlos Cacho headed it back across the goalmouth, where it hit the far post and Talavera reacted much too slowly to prevent Cvitanich's follow-up shot.
Torres played a central role, as coach Guillermo Rivarola opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation and paired Torres with Raul Martinez behind the four attackers. Torres was cautioned for clattering into Osvaldo Gonzalez trying to win a ball in midfield.
The second leg of the semifinal will be played Saturday in Toluca. FIFA rules require players to be released on Sunday to their World Cup squads, though players competing in the Champions League final May 22 are exempt.
Torres' situation is being "monitored" by U.S. Soccer officials and Coach Bob Bradley.
The federation could demand his release and force him to miss the two-leg finals next week if Pachuca advances to meet the winner of the Morelia-Santos series, which is tied, 1-1 after the first leg Wednesday in Morelia.
May 12 in Pachuca
Pachuca 2 Toluca 2. Goals: Manso 60, Cvitanich 86; Novaretti 47, Mancilla 81.
Pachuca - Cota, Rojas, Munoz, Lopes, G. Torres (Cacho, 81), Martinez, J. Torres (Montes, 62), Manso, Brambila (Cvitanich, 58), Alvarez, Benitez.
Toluca - Talavera, Gonzalez, Duenas, Novaretti, de la Torre, Rios, Romagnoli, Calderon (Marin, 67), Esquivel, Naelson, Mancilla (Nava, 83).