[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] MLS upped its record in the group stage of the Concacaf Champions League to three wins in three games when Real Salt Lake and Columbus earned narrow wins at home on Wednesday. Costa Rican Alvaro Saborio and Nigerian Emmanuel Ekpo were the heroes for RSL and the Crew, respectively.
RSL, the defending MLS champion, escaped with a narrow 2-1 win over Arabe Unido of Panama thanks to Saborio's two goals.
Armando Cooper put Arabe Unido ahead in the 13th minute when his shot deflected off a RSL defender and beat goalie Nick Rimando.
But Panamanian nerves were apparent as Canadian referee Paul Ward sent off Nahil Carroll for an ugly tackle on Kyle Beckerman in the 29th minute.
RSL continued to pile on the pressure, and in the 44th minute, only minutes after he hit the post with a header, Saborio equalized when he scored on a header off Chris Wingert's ball into the box.
Arabe Unido was on the verge of pulling off an improbable draw when Ward whistled Jose Justavino for a foul on Javier Morales in the penalty area, and Saborio converted the spot kick.
As the game moved into stoppage time, Andres Santamaria followed Carroll to the showers for a pair of yellow cards for dissent.
Ekpo's golazo in the 12th minute was all the Crew could muster in its 1-0 win over Municipal of Guatemala.
The Nigerian scored his first goal in 15th months when he rounded two defenders and blasted a shot past Panamanian keeper Jaime Penedo.
Andy Gruenebaum was the only backup Crew coach Robert Warzycha started, and the goalie came up with several key stops.
In other action, Jose Cardenas scored four goals to lead Santos of Mexico to a 5-2 win at Trinidad & Tobago's Joe Public, but the other Mexican entrant, Toluca, could only manage a 0-0 tie at El Salvador's FAS.
Toronto FC beat Cruz Azul, 2-0, on Tuesday, while the Seattle Sounders, the fourth MLS entrant, open Thursday against Honduran club Marathon.
Seattle owners paid for a charter to fly the Sounders to San Pedro Sula.