[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Of all the agonizing disappointments Major League Soccer teams have suffered against their Mexican counterparts, the results of Wednesday’s Concacaf Champions League encounters may be the most bitter.
In Mexico City, Real Salt Lake led Cruz Azul, 3-1, well into the second half, and after conceding three goals to fall behind equalized in stoppage time – only to allow yet another goal and lose, 5-4.
As that match ended, Seattle kicked off against Monterrey in a noisy Qwest Field, but surrendered goals on either side of halftime in a 2-0 defeat that leaves the Sounders with zero points after their first two CCL matches.
Javier Orozco destroyed RSL by scoring Cruz Azul’s first four goals, with Christian Gimenez netting in stoppage time to secure an incredible victory. In a relentless, driving rain, field conditions worsened to the point that standing water and large puddles covered the Estadio Azul surface, yet a pair of goals by Alvaro Saborio and one by Fabian Espindola – set up by Saborio’s steal and centering pass -- pushed Seattle in front by two goals with 25 minutes to play.
Orozco scored on a deflected shot to narrow the score to 3-2, and RSL held that lead until the final minutes of regulation, when Orozco scored twice in less than 90 seconds as slipping defenders and balls splashing through puddles turned the game into farce. Cruz Azul’s desperate attacks and miserable conditions created two chances that Orozco tucked away within a minute.
In the second minute of stoppage time Will Johnson pounced on an entry pass that bounced off a few legs to score from about 12 yards out to tie it again at 4-4. Cruz Azul stormed back downfield with the kickoff to get a cross into the penalty area and when a clearance rolled up the middle, Gimenez nailed it first-time low past Nick Rimando from 19 yards out.
Seattle struggled to break down the Monterrey defense and fell behind four minutes before halftime when goalie Kasey Keller raced out to collect a deflected cross but Neri Cardozo got to the ball first to nod it into the net. In the 58th minute Cardozo slipped a ball through the Sounders’ offside trap for Antonio de Nigris to blast past Keller.
The Sounders’ increased pressure eventually yielded a 17-7 advantage in shots but they weren’t able to beat Monterrey goalie Jonathan Orozco, who stymied them several times with the score 2-0 and finished the match with six saves.
Concacaf play for the MLS representatives resumes in mid-September. In Group A, all four teams – RSL, Cruz Azul, Toronto FC and Arabe Unido -- are tied with one win and one loss apiece for three points. Seattle is last in Group C with zero points along with Deportivo Saprissa, which plays its second group game Thursday against second-place Marathon. Monterrey is on top with six points from its two matches.
Columbus, which lost, 1-0, to Santos Laguna in Torreon Tuesday on a stoppage-time goal, is second in Group B ahead of pointless Joe Public and Municipal, which play on Thursday.
Aug. 25 in Mexico City
Cruz Azul 5, Real Salt Lake 4.
Goals: Orozco 5, 75, 88, 89, Gimenez 93+; Saborio 23 (penalty kick), Saborio 43, Espindola 64, Johnson 92+.
Cruz Azul – Gutierrez; Pinto, Dominguez, Orozco, Cervantes, Castro, Pineda (Chavez 76), Torrado, Villaluz (Gimenez, 46), Villa, Biancucchi (Vela, 46).
Real Salt Lake – Rimando; Russell, Borchers, McKenzie, Wingert, Gonzalez (Grabavoy, 46), Beckerman, Johnson, Morales (Williams, 74), Saborio, Espindola (Findley, 67).
Referee: O. Moncada.
Aug. 25 in Seattle
Seattle 0, Monterrey 2. Goals: Cardozo 41, de Nigris 58.
Seattle – Keller, Gonzalez, Ianni, Parke, Riley, Sturgis (Seamon, 67), Alonso, Fernandez (Levesque, 73), Nyassi, Montero, Nkufo (Jaqua, 46).
Monterrey – Orozco; Perez, Basanta, Morales, Mier, Osorio, Cardozo (Santana, 70), Zavala, Martinez (Perez, 81), de Nigris (Suazo, 75), Carreno.
Referee: J. Aguilar.
Cruz Azul-Real Salt Lake Highlights: