Monterrey's main man does it again, scoring a beauty against América in the Clausura playoffs. Elsewhere in CONCACAF, Club Tijuana scores an impressive win and there's pre-CCL action.
May 16, 2013
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Fans hope the rest of the Clausura playoffs mirror Wednesday night’s Monterrey-América match. Humberto Suazo continues to build his case for being the best forward currently playing in CONCACAF, putting los Rayados up in the first half with a gorgeous free kick. Christian Benitez’s goals weren’t as pretty, but he scored twice in 15 minutes in the second half and gave the visitors a 2-1 advantage. Monterrey wouldn’t go that easily, though, and Aldo de Nigris made sure things head back to the capital level with a great turn and score in the 74th minute.
American Alonso Hernandez was not in the 18 for Monterrey. The deciding match takes place Saturday evening.
Santos hosts Cruz Azul tonight in the other semifinal first leg and closes things out Sunday.
Mexico City welcomed Club Tijuana after the Xolos returned from an impressive 2-1 win against Palmeiras. The victory puts the Mexican side into the quarterfinals of the Copa Libertadores. After a scoreless first leg, Tijuana went to Brazil knowing there was a good chance at advancing if it could find a goal. The opener came through a goalkeeping howler in the 27th minute, and Xolos never looked back. Fernando Arce added some insurance with a second half golazo, a vital goal as Tijuana conceded a penalty in the 62nd minute and was reduced to 10 men for the final 10 minutes of the match.
Jurgen Klinsmann was in Sao Paulo to keep tabs on the match, and U.S. internationals Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona both started for Tijuana. Corona came off in the 67th minute while left back Castillo went the full 90.
Atlético Mineiro, complete with Ronaldinho, awaits in the quarterfinals.
Also of note, Antonio Mohamed, the manager who has guided Tijuana on its transcendent rise from the Mexican second division to a championship and the last eight of a major international tournament, confirmed he is leaving the club once the Libertadores run ends. He maintains his departure is because he misses his family in Argentina.
Other Americans in Liga MX
Jose Torres, yanked in the first half of Tigres’ first playoff match, started the second leg of the series with Monterrey and played 54 minutes in a draw that knocked the regular season champs out of the playoffs. Alonso Hernandez played the final five minutes of that match.
Herc Gomez played all of Santos’ 3-1 away victory over Atlas that put the Guerreros into the semifinals. He saw yellow in the first half.
Central American Domestic Leagues
We again take a look at the status of postseasons in Central America.
Real Sociedad beat Olimpia 1-0 at home after Olimpia went down to nine men thanks to red cards for Jhonny Palacios and Javier Portillo.
The final match is Sunday in Tegucigalapa. There were rumors Olimpia wouldn’t be allowed to use its home stadium after fan violence marred the semifinal, but the league decided the venue will be suitable.
Cartaginés and Herediano will contest the final in Costa Rica with ticket sales booming in Cartago for Sunday’s first leg. The team ended American Moises Hernandez and Saprissa’s season with a scoreless draw last weekend, good enough to get through to the final on away goals.
Meanwhile, El Team, which was in poor form when it was in the U.S. for the CONCACAF Champions League, has bounced back strong and beat Pérez Zeledón in the semis.
No two-legged final in Panama. One match Sunday at the national stadium between San Francisco and Sporting de San Miguelito will decide the title there. It’s a final between teams with contrasting histories as San Francisco is seeking to add to its trophy case and Sporting is in its first final in its 16-year history.
Juventud holds a 2-1 advantage on FAS heading into Saturday’s second semifinal leg in El Salvador. Alianzo beat Firpo 1-0 in the first leg between those sides.
Guatemala plays league matches into June, and while playoffs are ongoing in Nicaragua and Belize, Real Estreli and Belmopan Bandits are locked into those countries’ CCL spots.
Other CCL qualifying
Canada’s representative will be decided in Vancouver after Montreal and the Whitecaps played to a scoreless draw Wednesday night.
And the final Caribbean spot is up for grabs when Caledonia AIA of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica’s Portmore United play a two-legged series May 20 and May 22. Both matches will be in Trinidad and Tobago, with Caledonia hosting one and the other played in Couva, to the South. Caledonia’s domestic rivals W Connection and the Haitian club Valencia are already qualified for the 2013-14 incarnation of the tournament.
Video of the Week
Junior Lacayo, a 17-year-old forward for Victoria in Honduras, was on trial at West Ham last week. He returned to Honduras and told the local press that he played well. What did the English club say about a possible signing? “They said they might call me,” he said.
With that in mind, your video of the week is a Júnior Lacayo goal compilation. Come for the goals, stay for the celebrations.
Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) is a writer based in Arizona and is ASN's CONCACAF correspondent.