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CONCACAF Champions League: Houston Win, Almost Through

The Sounders are through to the knockout stages, while the Dynamo and Santos are right on the verge.

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Municipal Vs. Chorrillo, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League: Municipal Win Late

Municipal are still alive, barely. A loss to Chorrillo on Thursday night would have just about handed Monterrey the group, but an 80th minute by Leandro Barros lead the Guatemalans to a 2-1 win that has them in the thick of the Group 7 race.

Chorrillo got off to a dream start with a goal after 56 seconds. After a collision left the ball free, Alcibialdes Rojas nudged the ball forward for Renan Addles, who found the net for the opening score.

After some sloppy play, Municipal got even in the 23rd minute. Mario Rodriguez expertly chested down a long ball from Yosimar Arias and volley home to get the home side even.

Once they got even, Municipal grabbed the upper hand. They played well and especially in the second half, generated the bulk of the opportunities. That finally paid off 10 minutes from time when Barrios got on the end of a Rodriguez cross. Carlos Valdes made the initial save, but Barrios got to the rebound, tapped it in and Municipal had their winning goal.

The loss eliminates Chorrillo from the competition without a point. Municipal is now level with Monterrey atop the group with a clash between the two looming next week. Working in Monterrey's favor is that the match is in Mexico and that they have a match in hand, a trip to Panama next month.


Houston Dynamo Vs. FAS, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League: Dynamo On Verge Of Quarters

The Houston Dynamo did well to take four points on the road in their first two CONCACAF Champions League matches and set themselves up to book a spot in the quarterfinals at home, which they took a step towards doing on Thursday night with a 4-0 win over FAS. Houston is now undefeated in 22 matches at BBVA Compass Stadium and will advance to the knockout stages with any result against Olimpia in their group stage finale.

The opening stages of the match were dreadful as both teams struggled to put together anything that resembled an attack, but Giles Barnes found a crease and took advantage. The Englishman ripped a shot from 25 yards that eluded Daniel Arroyo for his first goal with the Dynamo to put them a goal up.

Just before halftime, Houston doubled their lead on the first of two Colin Clark assists. He whipped in a free kick, which Bobby Boswell was able to nod home and the Dynamo were two goals to the good at the break.

Four minutes after the break, Houston put the match to bed. Cam Weaver scored thanks to Clark's second assist and the match was done and dusted. Calen Clark added another goal late, but the match was already in the bag by then.

The loss eliminates FAS from the tournament. Houston is three points clear of Olimpia, who play FAS before heading to BBVA Compass Stadium next month.


Aguila Vs. Santos Laguna, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League: Santos Good, Aguila Not

Santos Laguna is just about on their way to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. Two goals and an assists from Jesus Escoboza led them past hapless Aguila 4-0 on Wednesday night to give Santos nine points from three matches. That is six points clear of second place Toronto FC and into the knockout stages barring an epic collapse.

It took until the second half before Santos found the net, but once they did they were off and running. Escoboza put them in front after 49 minutes when he got on the end of a good ball from Rodolfo Salinas and buried a volley for the lead. The 19-year-old then whipped in a cross seven minutes later, which Aaron Galindo headed home and it was 2-0. A 62nd minute goal by Escoboza made the match a laugher and then just for good measure, Marc Crosas added a penalty to wrap things up.

Aguila is doing their best to prove that they are the worst team in the competition. They are still without a point after three matches and have been outscored 14-1. That takes talent.


CD Marathon Vs. Seattle Sounders, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League: A Rave Green Quarterfinal

The referee seemed intent on keeping the group interesting, but the Seattle Sounders had other plans. Despite giving up a pair of penalties and having a goal waved off for a questionable foul, the Sounders became the first team to punch their ticket into the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals with a 3-2 win over Marathon on Saturday.

The Sounders twice saw one-goal leads wiped out by penalties. The first seemed perfectly legitimate, as Mitchell Brown was taken down in the penalty area by Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. Mario Berrios converted that penalty. The second penalty was far more questionable, as the contact between Patrick Ianni and Julian Rapalo seemed incidental at most. Berrios again converted the penalty.

Despite starting a lineup that was heavy on reserves, it was mostly Sounders starters who were responsible for the goals. The Sounders took the initial lead when Sammy Ochoa scored his third goal in as many Champions League games, nodding home a Mario Martinez cross in the 11th minute.

After several regrettable missed opportunities, Eddie Johnson was the next player to give the Sounders the lead. He was able to chest down an Andy Rose pass and hit a quick, right-footed shot past the goalkeeper in the 62nd minute.

The game-winner was supplied by Brad Evans, who rose over a Marathon defender to score a header in the 78th minute. The assist was provided by Osvaldo Alonso.

The Sounders are 3-0-0 through their first three matches and are one of three teams to have won all their group stage games.


Puerto Rico Islanders Vs. LA Galaxy, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League: Boooooooooo

Unfortunately, the LA Galaxy and Puerto Rico Islanders played 90 minutes on Wednesday night and people (not very many of them, mind you) actually paid real money to watch them. Poor souls.

It was an awful match and not a single good word can be said about it. The 0-0 scoreline actually flattered both sides.

Both teams kicked the ball regularity, but also kicked each other just as often and the ball rarely found its intended target. Since the Islanders were on their way out of the tournament and Bruce Arena hates the Champions League anyways, neither team had much urgency either. Everything about the match was terrible.

The draw eliminated Puerto Rico from the competition, while LA is now four points clear at the top of Group 5. Even if Metapan beats the Islanders next week in Puerto Rico, the Galaxy will win the group with a win or draw when they play at Metapan on October 25.


Real Esteli Vs. UANL Tigres, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League: Draw Eliminates Esteli

UANL Tigres' road to the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League has been anything but easy and it was difficult again on Tuesday night. It took a 90th minute goal by Jorge Espericueta just to earn a 1-1 draw with Real Esteli, a goal that proved to be the death knell for the Nicaraguan side, who are now eliminated from the competition.

Knowing that they needed a win to avoid elimination, Esteli played their best match of the tournament. Tigres still had the better of the early play, but the home side put in a good shift and it paid off in the 53rd minute when Juan Barrera's powerful header of a corner kick put Esteli in front.

Once down a goal, Tigres really turned things up. Alan Pulido, Fernando Navarro and Taufic Garcia all had chances, but neither could finish. Eventually, the visitors' pressure relented and Esteli began to grab some control in the final minutes.

But just when it seemed as if Tigres would lose in Nicaragua, Alberto Acosta crossed for Espericueta in extra time. It was a fine pass that left Espericueta a simple tap in for a Tigres road draw.

Tigres are now one point ahead of Alajuelense in Group 6. With their final match coming at home against the Costa Ricans, they are just a win in Mexico away from the knockout stages, but things are still very much up in the air because an Alajuelense win and maybe even a draw would see them through at the expense of the favored Mexicans.


Xelaju Vs. W Connection, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League: Xelaju Keeps Dream Alive

The Xelaju dream is still alive! The small Guatemalan club and the last Cinderella team alive in this season's tournament who shocked the region with a win over Chivas last month needed to beat W Connection on Tuesday to stay atop Group 8 and that is exactly what they did. A goal by Fredy Taylor with less than 15 minutes remaining earned them a 3-2 win at home to keep the lovable underdogs in the competition.

Xelaju came out of the gates on fire and earned two corners within a minute. By the fourth minute, their hot start paid off when Kern Cupid nodded a free kick past his own goalkeeper for an own goal that put the home side in front.

W Connection came right back, though. Not long after they countered quickly to unlock the Xelaju defense and eventually Hasim Arcia fed Rennie Britto, who chipped the goalkeeper for the equalizer.

But before halftime Xelaju found another goal to reclaim their lead. W Connection failed to mark Israel Silva, who got a free header on Kevin Arriola's cross, which he buried break the tie.

Of course, that would not be all, though. The match was too open for that and in the 50th minute, Joevin Jones curled a beautiful shot from 25 yards. It scooted past the goalkeeper and just inside the post for a great goal that got W Connection level.

The 2-2 tie would last until the 76th minute when, once again, W Connection failed to mark a Xelaju player on a cross. This time it was Taylor who got free and onto the end of an Allan Aleman cross. He did not make a mistake with his finish to deliver Xelaju the win.

With the win, Xelaju now sits on seven points, three clear of Chivas. W Connection have just one point and with the loss to Xelaju, are eliminated from the competition


Tauro FC Vs. Real Salt Lake, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League: RSL Wins In Extra Time

Real Salt Lake would be forgiven if they thought that it just wasn't their night. Despite all of their fine play, some shoddy finishing and good goalkeeping by Vladimir Villarreal sent them into stoppage time in Panama without a goal to their name. But in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Alvaro Saborio converted a penalty that propelled Salt Lake to a 1-0 win over Tauro FC and into a tie atop Group 2 with Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League.

The visitors' best chances came with their heads, only they couldn't find the frame with them. Saborio and Javier Morales each missed the goal with free headers and late on Chris Wingert did the same. Saborio did manage to put the ball on frame once, albeit with his feet, but when he did Villarreal made a fine save to turn him away.

Despite little of the possession and spending much of the match in their own half, Tauro did have a couple chances of their own. The problem is that most of their opportunities came from distance and Nick Rimando was there to deny them each time.

But just when the match seemed destined for a draw, RSL broke through. Saborio got free at the top of the box and when Villarreal came rushing off of his line, he took down the Costa Rican striker. The referee pointed to the spot and while Villarreal did get a hand to Saborio's penalty, he couldn't keep it out and RSL got all three points.

The win pushes Salt Lake into a virtual tie atop Group 2, although they have played one more match than Herediano. Luckily for them, they host Herediano in their final match of the group stage. The loss eliminated Tauro, who have not earned a point yet.

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