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In a match filled with strange refereeing and sometimes awkward play, the LA Galaxy topped Alajuelense in Los Angeles, 2-0, to stay atop Group A of the CONCACAF Champions League after two matchdays. Omar Gonzalez got the first goal for the Galaxy and Chad Barrett added one of his own, but the Costa Rican side did have their chances. In the end, LA prevailed, but were dealt a a couple blows with Juniho being shown a late red card and Gregg Berhalter going off with an injury.
Galaxy manager Bruce Arena had planned on resting several starters, Omar Gonzalez and David Beckham included, against Alejuelense, but their MLS match scheduled for Sunday was postponed due to the threat of Hurricane Irene. That allowed him to go ahead with a full strength squad, which paid off in the 37th minute. Beckham's corner kick found the head of Gonzalez and the towering defender was able to nod home the opening goal to put LA on top.
While the Galaxy had a lead and had other chances like Adam Cristman's header off of the crossbar, they were hardly comfortable. Alajuelense pushed forward and challenged the LA backline with regularity. In each half they had golden opportunities to score, only to be denied by Josh Saunders. The LA keeper came off his line to make a great save with the Galaxy defense completely beaten in the first half, the he got down to make a diving save in the second half on a shot from just 10 yards.
In the 77th minute, LA was able to get some breathing room when a good run to the near post by Robbie Keane dragged the defense with him, leaving a gaping hole in the center. Sean Franklin delivered a cross right to Barrett, who came into the center for an easy finish to seal the Galaxy win.
With the match in the bag, Juninho came flying in with a late challenge in the air. The referee was wrong to show him a red card, presumably for an elbow that never hit Christopher Meneses above the shoulders, but Juninho should have never made the challenge. He gave a referee who showed all match long that he was prone to poor decisions the opportunity to send him off and that's what the referee did. LA will now be without him when they play Morelia on matchday three in Mexico and they may also be without Berhalter, who went off in the first half with what appeared to be a serious foot injury, but the extent of his injury is unknown.
LA leads Group A with six points now, but they will have to play three of their final four group stage matches away from the Home Depot Center. Alajuelense is on three points, even with Morelia for second in the group, although they are behind Morelia on goal difference.
Monarcas Morelia got off to a flying start at Estadio Morelos with a goal in the second minute then poured it on in the second half to roll past CD Motagua, 4-0, in their CONCACAF Champions League mach on Thursday night. Four different players scored for Morelia as they outplayed Motagua in almost every aspect, outshooting Motagua 17-5 and earning eight corners to Motagua's three, all while dominating possession en route to a deserved three points.
Luis Noriega spotted an unmarked Rafael Marquez Lugo at the penalty spot just a minute into the match and put a pass right onto Marquez Lugo's chest. The striker brought it down and had plenty of goal to shoot at, slotting the ball home for an early goal. Morelia continued to carry the play, but couldn't turn it into another goal before the break as every chance went begging either due to poor finishing or fantastic goalkeeping by Donaldo Morales.
Just four minutes into the second half, Morelia doubled their lead through Joao Rojas, who came streaking in to the far post unmarked and had an easy finish of a cross from Manuel Perez. Diego Jimenez was able to make it 3-0 in the 70th minute when a scramble in front of goal resulted in the ball falling to him for the finish. Three minutes later, Gerardo Lugo headed home a cross from Yasser Corona to give the score its final scoreline.
Motagua had a few chances, but at no point were they on equal terms with Morelia. In the end, the home side triumphed on a rainy night in Mexico to earn their first points of the competition. They now sit in second place in Group A with three points, ahead of Alajuelense on goal difference and three points behind the LA Galaxy for first place. Motagua are still in search of their first points of the tournament, but both of their first two matches have been on the road so they have the advantage of playing three of their final four group stage matches at home.
The Los Angeles Galaxy came into tonight’s CCL match with every intention of following their MLS rivals to victory. Despite not playing a Mexican league side (or in Mexico) LA went into tonight’s match with every intention of winning while Alajuelense came seemingly intention of eeking out a nil-nil draw. Unfortunately for the latter side, that was not the case.
For those who watched LA’s weak Champions League run last year, you will have been surprised to see that LA started their best players tonight. Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Omar Gonzalez, Junihno, amongst others all started in tonight’s match. This was a stark contrast as compared to last year when LA was famously removed from the tournament at the hands of the Puerto Rico Islanders before the group stages.
While the game was heavily LA dominated, their efforts did not pay off until the 36th minute when a corner kick taken by David Beckham was slotted in off the head of Omar Gonzalez. Alajuelense, for their part, did have a couple solid chances, especially one particular break away which was saved by Josh Saunders at the last minute.
Heading into the half, LA lead 1-nil over the Costa Rican side.
The second half started off with a bang as Alajuelense made an early run on LA’s goal. LA’s backline was nearly defenseless and, had Saunders not opted to run out and smother the goal, tonight’s story might have been a little different. Fortunately for the MLS squad, Saunders opted not to sleep through the opening minutes.
Continuing on in the second half, Alajuelense was actually the more aggressive side for much of it. They had more chances and shots than LA. It wasn’t until the the latter part of the second half that Los Angeles was able to notch their second goal of the night off a brilliant Sean Franklin cross that was stepped over by Robbie Keane right to the feet of Chad Barrett who slotted it into the back of the net.
The game would ultimately end 2-nil in favor of the MLS side with a singular red card to Junihno who was sent off late in the second half for elbowing a player in the back of the end in the air.
Tonight’s win makes Los Angeles the fourth undefeated MLS side in this year’s Champions League.
UNAM Pumas were the favorites to win Group C of the CONCACAF Champions League, but one-third of the way through the group stage they are still in search of their first win. They were shocked at home in their first match by FC Dallas and on Thursday night they played Tauro FC to a scoreless draw in Panama, leaving them on just one point after two matches. That leaves them bottom of the group, but they are only two points behind Toronto FC for second place, the final advancement spot in the group.
It wasn't as if Pumas didn't deserve three points on Thursday night though. They dominated Tauro, tripling the number of shots taken by the Panamanians, but their finishing was poor and the ball always seemed to bounce away from them. The best Tauro could do was earn corner kicks, but they struggled to turn those corner kicks into chances.
As was the case in their first match of the tournament, Pumas played several youth and reserve players so it is not as if they are putting their best foot forward. Even so, now they face a key match against Toronto FC back in Mexico on September 14. They almost certainly will be favored to get three points against the Canadian side and three points is exactly what they need to give themselves a chance at a spot in the knockout stages.
After grabbing a late lead in the first half of last night's game with Toronto FC before the rain and lightning hit BMO Field, FC Dallas came into the restart today hoping to pick up where they left off. Dallas did just that as they scored yet another late first half goal from newcomer Jack Stewart to give them the 1-0 win over Toronto in the second game of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage.
Dallas has now tied a Champions League record with four straight shutouts. They equal Monterrey and Toluca's record of winning their first four CCL games as well.
The Toros sit atop Group C with six points and now have three out of the four remaining group games at Pizza Hut Park.
The game's lone goal came in stoppage time from Stewart, who got on the end of an Ugo Ihemelu cross. Dallas was pressuring Toronto a lot in the late stages of the first half after a missed penalty from Daniel Hernandez.
Toronto had the bulk of the chances though in this one. Joao Plata pressured Dallas early on but it was former Dallas striker Peri Marosevic who nearly tied this one up midway through the second half. Marosevic found some space in the penalty box but Kevin Hartman got just enough of the ball to keep the shutout streak in tact.
The Reds pushed forward late in the second half with a flurry of chances on goal but none really tested Hartman.
The loss for Toronto saw their four game unbeaten run in this year's tournament come to an end as well as their five game unbeaten run in the CCL spanning back to last year.
The first 45 minutes ended the same way it ended last night, just without all the rain. FC Dallas is up 1-0 at the end of the first half with Toronto FC thanks to a late goal from newcomer Jack Stewart.
Stewart found himself on the end of an Ugo Ihemelu cross in the 45th minute. It was his first goal with the MLS side since coming over on loan from the NASL's Minnesota club. He was the lone change for Dallas in the restart of this game from last night and so far it looks like he is paying off for Schellas Hyndman's club.
Dallas had a chance moments before the goal when Marvin Chavez used his speed to get into the box and cause a dangerous tackle from Richard Eckersley. The play resulted in a penalty kick for Dallas which captain Daniel Hernandez took, only to miss it wide left.
Santos Laguna are making it very clear that they either do not care about the CONCACAF Champions League or that they believe they can cruise through the competition for their reserve team. If it is the former then they won't be particularly disappointed with their performances so far. If it is the latter then they are int he midst of a rude awakening. After struggling to get past Olimpia in the preliminary round they had problems beating Real Espana on matchday one. Now they've been soundly defeated on matchday two by Isidro Metapan, 2-0, as the Santos reserves were completely outclassed in El Salvador.
It took until just before the halftime whistle for Metapan to go on top, but it was wholly deserved. Paolo Suarez did the honors with a 45th minute goal, finishing to give the home side a lead going into the break. Six minutes into the second half, Metapan doubled their lead through Christian Bautista, who got free on the left and was able to sneak his shot between Miguel Becerra's legs to make it 2-0.
Santos did not play a single regular starter and Metapan dominated, nearly doubling Santos' shots in the first half before more than doubling them in the second 45 minutes. Metapan deserved all three points that they got and now sit on three points in Group B, tied with Santos for second place, a point behind the Colorado Rapids.
Toronto FC has benefitted from bad weather once again, this time having their 1-0 halftime deficit to FC Dallas erased after lightning forced the cancellation of Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League match. Earlier this year, TFC was trailing the Vancouver Whitecaps late in their Nutrilite Canadian Championship match when weather forced that match to be abandoned. The match will now be played in its entirety starting at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday at BMO Field.
This match was actually delayed twice before officials finally decided to call it off around 11:30 p.m. local time when it became apparent that the weather was not going to let up. This photo seem to accurately display the weather conditions near the stadium.
Having a lead literally erased is just the latest bad break for FC Dallas. In the last week, they have lost starting defenders Zach Loyd (injury) and George John (likely transfer) and dropped into third place in the Western Conference after falling to the Seattle Sounders.
FC Dallas took a 1-0 lead over Toronto FC into halftime of their CONCACAF Champions League group stage match on Wednesday. The Toros got a goal from Jackson Goncalves off an assist from Jair Benitez in the 19th minute and the game was suspended for about 40 minutes as a lightning storm moved through the area. Play was resumed despite rain coming down harder than when the game was initially delayed.
Neither team really pushed the action very much in the first half, with Jackson's goal standing up as the only quality opportunity from either side. FC Dallas outshot the hosts 3-2, while Toronto FC had the bulk of the possession, especially after the goal, finishing off the half with a 64-36 advantage.
Toronto FC entered the match having lost just once in six CCL matches. FC Dallas came into the match as the first MLS team to ever have won each of their first three CCL matches.
Threats of lightning storms has forced the Toronto FC-FC Dallas CONCACAF Champions League group stage match into a weather delay in the 31st minute. At the time of the delay, which was initially expected to last about 30 minutes, FC Dallas was leading 1-0 off a goal from Jackson Goncalves.
Coincidentally, both of these teams have had to deal with weather delays this season. Toronto FC was trailing the Vancouver Whitecaps late in a Nutrilite Canadian Championship game when lightning eventually forced the abandonment of that match.
This is actually the third time FC Dallas has dealt with a lightning delay. On May 1, their match against the Los Angels Galaxy was delayed in the 83rd minute with the score tied 1-1. The Toros eventually won that game on a late goal by Brek Shea. A few weeks later, their match against Real Salt Lake was also delayed. That matched ended in a 0-0 tie.
FC Dallas' fullbacks combined on a 19th minute goal to give them a 1-0 lead over Toronto FC on Wednesday. Jair Benitez found some space on the left wing and sent in a perfectly weighted ball that found right back Jackson Goncalves as he strode toward the goal. Jackson volleyed the ball over Toronto FC goalkeeper Milos Kocic's head.
Despite playing without two of their best defenders, FC Dallas has controlled much of the early going of this match. They hold a 55-45 possession advantage and have created more pressure than the home team. Andrew Jacobson has looked solid in his first start this season at center back, as George John is currently in Europe trying to finalize paperwork for a transfer to Blackburn.
Both teams entered the match having won road games in their first CCL matches last week. The Toros became the first MLS team to win in Mexico by beating UNAM Pumas 1-0, while the Reds beat Panama's Tauro 2-1.
The top spot in Group C of the CONCACAF Champions League is on the line tonight as Toronto FC hosts FC Dallas at BMO Field. Both sides picked up wins on the first matchday with Toronto winning 2-1 in Panama against Tauro and Dallas going to Mexico and defeating Pumas, 1-0. Now they will look to pick up three points and get some separation atop the group.
As MLS teams, Toronto and Dallas are familiar with each other. Dallas defeated Toronto at home on May 11, but that was before Toronto picked up their level of play with the acquisitions of Danny Koevermans, Torsten Frings and Ryan Johnson, along with the emergence of Joao Plata. Even with those players though, Dallas got the better of Toronto on July 20 in Toronto when they won 1-0.
Koevermans is out of the lineup today as he battles injury, but besides that it is a full strength Toronto side. Unfortunately for the Canadians, their full strength side includes Andy Iro in the center of the defense so odds are that Brek Shea, Marvin Chavez and the Dallas attack get at least one goal at BMO.
No team has even done more to impress than Seattle did by winning at Monterrey, topping even Real Salt Lake's run to the Champions League final
It wasn't a pretty match and neither Real Espana nor the Colorado Rapids particularly impressed, but both walked away with a point. The Rapids somehow managed a goal just before halftime then allowed a goal just before the final whistle as the teams split the spoils in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The draw left the Rapids atop Group B of the CONCACAF Champions League on four points, while Real Espana got their first point of the tournament.
The Rapids left many of their top players at home for their trip to Honduras. It showed in the opening portion of the match as Real Espana grabbed control. Even so, it was Colorado who tallied first when Jeff Larentowicz was able to finish well to the far post just before the halftime break. It wasn't particularly fair, but justice was served four minutes from full time when Julio Rodriguez found an equalizer.
If either team were to win, it should have been the home side. They had the better of the chances and play, but finished poorly or struggled to find the final ball. It is not as if they played especially well though to say they were hard done by a draw wouldn't be fair. In the end, a draw will do.
Maybe Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid knows what he's doing after all. After fielding a team heavy on reserves for the Sounders' CONCACAF Champions League group stage match against Monterrey, Schmid left himself ripe for second-guessing. Now, he looks like a genius as the Sounders went to Monterrey and became the second straight MLS team to win in Mexico, registering a 1-0 win.
The Sounders got a goal from Alvaro Fernandez off an assist from Pat Noonan in the 38th minute and packed it in from there. Goalkeeper Terry Boss hardly looked steady in goal, but came up big when he needed to, making four saves to preserve the win.
Unlike FC Dallas' win over UNAM Pumas a week ago, this came against Monterrey side that featured many of their first choice players. Among the stars who played all 90 minutes were Humberto Suazo, Aldo De Nigris, Jonathan Orozco and Jesus Zavala.
Those players were in the middle of some of the game's key moments. De Nigris created Los Rayodos' best chance when he was able to put heavy pressure on Boss as he tried to dribble a pass back. De Nigris got possession of the ball, but fell over Boss. He was able to maintain his footing long enough to find Suazo about eight yards out. But Suazo's shot went just wide.
Although the Sounders wound up with just 36 percent of the possession, they did manage to create several opportunities of their own. The best chance in the second half came when Osvaldo Alonso was able to round Orozco, but his first touch was heavy and the ball went out of bounds.
The Sounders, who went 1-5-0 in last year's group stage, are now in control Group D. They sit a 2-0-0 and have already played what was widely expected to be their toughest game.
Make sure to cruise on over to Sounder at Heart to get their reaction to this massive upset.
Alavaro Fernandez scored in the 38th minute on a perfectly executed counter-attack to give the Seattle Sounders a 1-0 lead over Monterrey at halftime of their CONCACAF Champions League group stage match on Tuesday. Fernandez was able to fight off two defenders, control a pass from Pat Noonan and pound it past goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco.
Throughout the first half, the Sounders have been content to play more of a counter-attacking style. They have possessed the ball less than 40 percent of the time, but have done well to limit Monterrey's scoring chances.
Monterrey started a lineup that featured several of their first-choice offensive players, but they have struggled to string passes together and create anything that resembles a consistent attack. They have managed four shots, but none of them have been very dangerous.
The Sounders have only taken one shot, but they have been able to create several good scoring opportunities. They used a starting lineup with only four of their regulars and two players who have played only sparingly this season.
The Seattle Sounders will have quite the mountain to climb as they hope to become the second straight MLS team to win in Mexico when they take on Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage on Tuesday. As was expected, the Sounders' starting lineup is heavy on reserves with some Pat Noonan and Nate Jaqua starting at forward and Roger Levesque getting his first start in the midfield. Terry Boss, who has yet to appear in a MLS game this year, is the starting goalkeeper.
With all that said, all but two of the Sounders starters have received at least five starts during the MLS season. Alvaro Fernandez, Jeff Parke, James Riley and Tyson Wahl are all currently first-choice players, and Brad Evans and Levesque have been at various points in the season.
Monterrey is countering with a far more powerful lineup that will include Humberto Suazo and Aldo De Nigris, among others. It is the kind of lineup that suggests Los Rayados do not intend to become the second straight Mexican team to lose to a MLS team at home.
Monterrey starters: Orozco; Meza, Chavez, Morales, Perez; De Nigris, Zavala, Cardozo, Mier; Corona, Suazo.
Sounders starters: Boss; Riley, Scott, Parke, Wahl; Levesque, Evans, Carrasco, Fernandez; Jaqua, Noonan. Bench: Ford, Graham, Gonzalez, Alonso, Sanyang, Friberg, Fucito.
With Seattle and Monterrey fielding weakened squads, Alajuelense's visit to Los Angeles is the top match up on matchday two in the CONCACAF Champions League as teams look to separate from the pack.
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