It’s safe to say this is the biggest Thursday in Mexican soccer history in quite some time. Liga MX comes to a conclusion, the boys in Tijuana take on a team from Brazil, and other goodies. CONCACAF never stops.
May 23, 2013
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Liga MX Final
The Clausura is down to two with Club América and Cruz Azul meeting in the capital. La Maquina hosts the first leg in Estadio Azul Thursday night at 10 Eastern and just 15 km away and three days later the Azteca will host the final match of the season Sunday.
América got to this stage by beating Monterrey 2-1 in the Azteca to move through 4-3 on aggregate.
After winning the away leg 3-0, Cruz Azul dispatched Herc Gomez and Santos 2-1 and moved into the final with a 5-1 margin.
The Copa Libertadores quarterfinals are here for the American gang at Club Tijuana. Ronaldinho and Atletico Mineiro have made the long journey from Belo Horizonte to the Mexican border city for the first leg of the tie. The arrival caused a stir.
The Brazilians have mentioned the low-grade artificial turf and Tijuana’s staunch defense which includes American Edgar Castillo, as potential road bolcks to the semifinals.
Castillo, Joe Corona and the rest of the club hope to get a leg up in the match which starts at 8:30 p.m. Eastern and is televised on Fox Deportes.
With qualifiers looming, it’s time for tune-ups. The U.S. won’t play until next week, but some friendlies have already taken place.
El Salvador went up early on Venezuela, but the Vinotinto came back for the 2-1 victory. After the match, manager Alberto Castillo said the performance was good but the team fell into some of the mistakes commonly made in international play. MLS vet Steve Purdy went the full 90 for la Azul y Blanco.
Clint Dempsey faces a familiar foe on Thursday night when Tottenham plays Jamaica in the national stadium of The Bahamas.
Other countries have called in their rosters. Here are links to those of the other teams in the Hex:
One note is Oribe Peralta will miss the upcoming matches with injury.
Central American Domestic Leagues
There are two new champions in CONCACAF.
In Honduras, Olimpia came back from 1-0 down on aggregate to beat Real Sociedad and take its fourth-straight Honduran title after a 2-0 win.
That means Victoria, the club with the best aggregate record, is Honduras’ second entrant into the CONCACAF Champions League.
Sporting San Miguelito won its first title with a 4-1 victory against San Francisco in the one-off title match Sunday. The games came quickly at the start of the match. Ricardo Clarke (a 20-year-old Panamanian striker, not the Dynamo midfielder) opened the scoring four minutes in and Darwin Pinzón put in a very nice goal four minutes later for San Miguelito, but San Francisco answered with a free kick goal in the 11th minute. A third San Miguelito goal just before the half put the title firmly in their hands.
Cartaginés had a strong showing in its home leg against Herediano in the Costa Rican final, winning 3-1 after trailing 1-0 at the halftime break. The teams are vying for a newly designed championship trophy but also could be playing for a third CONCACAF Champions League spot. The federation is attempting to determine whether Belize is fit to host matches. If not, that country’s spot, currently held by the Belmopan Bandits, will go to either Costa Rica or Guatemala. The Costa Ricans could send Saprissa, who have the best aggregate record between the Winter 2012 and Summer 2013 seasons or they could send both of these teams contesting the final.
FAS and Firpo came out of the weekend’s semifinals victorious in El Salvador and will play for the championship Sunday afternoon.
Guatemala plays league matches into June. Real Estreli is Nicaragua’s representative, though the league is down to its semifinals. Managua, Walter Ferreti and Diriangén join Estreli in competing for the Clausura crown.
Other CCL qualifying
Caledonia AIA beat Portmore United 1-0 Monday night and the two teams drew 2-2 Wednesday, sending the side from Trinidad and Tobago through to the CONCACAF Champions League. The other Caribbean spots were won by countrymen W Connection and the Haitian club Valencia.
Canada’s spot will be decided next week when Vancouver and Montreal play the second leg of their Canadian Championship final. The first leg was scoreless.
Video of the Week
CONCACAF has announced its winner for best goal and best save from the previous incarnation of the Champions League:
Diego Calvo’s stunner against Tigres was voted the best goal and Juan Ibarra stoning Robbie Keane is the best save.
Here are the 10 best goals:
And the saves:
Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) is a writer based in Arizona and is ASN's CONCACAF correspondent.