Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
MLS pride will be on the line in CCL semis
by Ridge Mahoney, March 14th, 2013 4:27PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ
TAGS:  concacaf champions league, mls

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney

There won't be many excuses for Seattle and Los Angeles when they face Liga MX opposition in the Concacaf Champions League semifinals next month, and both series will present a true test of where the top MLS clubs stack up against their Mexican counterparts.

The Sounders square off against Santos Laguna and the Galaxy takes on two-time defending regional champion Monterrey in the semifinals to be played during the first two weeks of April. Both MLS teams play the first legs at home, which is generally regarded as a disadvantage; as the higher-seeded teams, all four quarterfinal winners hosted the second legs.

But playing the cards you are dealt and prevailing nonetheless is how respect is established. The MLS teams have about three weeks to plan and prepare for these acid tests. Unless the league schedule is revamped, they won’t have the advantage of resting from league play, as was the case when they sat out the league schedule on the weekend between the quarterfinals’ first and second legs.

The Galaxy plays in Toronto March 30, a Saturday, and then flies cross-country to host Monterrey. Seattle is also on the road, also on Saturday, and though its league game is a short trip, facing RSL at Rio Tinto is about as tough a tune-up as one can imagine. Both teams are at home the following weekend (April 7-8).

Whatever lingering rust that affected MLS teams in the quarterfinals should be scraped away by then. On the line will a spot in the CCL final, the winner of which advances to represent Concacaf at the Club World Cup Dec. 11-21 in Morocco, and a huge dose of bragging rights in the rivalry between MLS and Liga MX.

Unlikely is the possibility Monterrey and/or Santos will follow the lead of UANL Tigres, which won the first leg against Seattle, 1-0, and sent a second-tier squad to CenturyLink Field. Tigres got off to a great start and scored the first goal to take a 2-0 lead on aggregate, then lost Manuel Viniegra to a second caution shortly before halftime and surrendered three goals as a crowd of more than 20,000 celebrated the dramatic comeback.

Santos Laguna and U.S. forward Herculez Gomez has already taunted the Sounders by tweeting a reminder of the 6-1 beatdown his team inflicted in the teams’ last meeting. Two-time defending champion Monterrey topped Real Salt Lake in the finals two years ago and beat Santos Laguna, 3-2, to take the crown last year. Even if the Liga MX race takes first priority, it’s game on.

With a few more league games to sharpen their form prior to the CCL semis, Seattle and the Galaxy should be less prone to lapses and letdowns than in the quarterfinals. If they need a reminder of how costly those glitches can be, all they need do is watch the Santos Laguna-Houston second leg.

A clumsy penalty-area foul and two glaring breakdowns provided opportunities the Mexican club gleefully exploited to win the match and the series, 3-1. In midseason form, Santos capitalized on a Dynamo defense weakened by a last-minute change and disastrous defensive lapses.

Warren Creavalle, called into the squad when regular left back Corey Ashe had to be scratched from the starting lineup, wrapped up forward Oribe Peralta as a cross came into the box and wound up on the ground entangled with Peralta as the ball sailed over their heads. Juan Pablo Rodriguez’s penalty kick was sensationally tipped onto the crossbar by keeper Tally Hall, but Rodriguez got to the rebound a hair ahead of Hall and midfielder Adam Moffat to force the ball over the goal line.

When defender Bobby Boswell and Hall hesitated near the edge of the penalty area to collect a loose ball, Gomez knifed between them to ruthlessly punish their indecision. Substitute Matt Driver lost the mark on Marc Crosas as a free kick floated to the far post; Hall didn’t challenge for the ball and also failed to close down the angle as Crosas nailed a shot that caromed off the keeper’s chest into the net.

Gomez’s tweet sent out earlier today read: “Happy Anniversary Seattle! On this day 1 yr ago you made your first trip to the Estadio Corona! Such fun!”

Oh, it’s definitely game on.



2 comments
  1. John Soares
    commented on: March 14, 2013 at 7:15 p.m.
    MLS is not there yet. MX has history, experience, and in some cases 3 to 5+ times the budget. BUT at least the games, for the most part are becoming interesting.
  1. feliks fuksman
    commented on: March 17, 2013 at 7:57 a.m.
    True, nevertheless, anything can happen. That's why we play this beautiful game!

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
MLS Cup final worth is celebrating as it turns 21    
Seattle and Toronto personify the ambition shown by many big-market MLS teams, and after long years ...
Jordan Morris takes advice to heart in 'surreal' rookie season    
Jordan Morris has gotten a lot of good advice in his rookie year from teammates and ...
Bruce Arena is a safe bet compared to the gamble U.S. Soccer took on Klinsmann    
It was an exciting and hopeful time, when U.S. Soccer hired Jurgen Klinsmann in the summer ...
Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. years    
More than five years with Jurgen Klinsmann in charge of the U.S. team ended Monday when ...
Tony DiCicco: Jill Ellis has USA on the right track despite Olympic setback    
Tony DiCicco remains the only coach who has guided the U.S. women to a World Cup ...
Klinsmann's promises of progress are not to be found    
The 4-0 blowout loss in Costa Rica Tuesday night is grounds for real concern, not just ...
Asleep at the wheel, an old U.S. habit    
First things first, the better team won on Friday night. Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio recalled ...
Americans' sporadic performance mars a great night for soccer    
A decade and a half of dominance crashed to earth Friday night in Columbus, where Mexico ...
Kinnear is anxious for 'awesome' encounter in Columbus    
Every time the USA plays Mexico those who have taken part in the rivalry think about ...
USL president Jake Edwards on Division II, expansion, MLS relationship and FC Cincinnati phenomenon    
Jake Edwards just completed his second season as the president of the USL. The league expanded ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives