Fredy Montero gives the Seattle Sounders an early 1-0 lead over Herediano in their CONCACAF Champions League group stage match on Wednesday (Corky Trewin/Seattle Sounders FC)

2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League, Matchday 3: Sounders Thrive, Toronto Falls, Dallas Survives

Seattle were the class of the MLS sides on Wednesday as they picked up a win in Costa Rica, but Toronto were embarrassed and Dallas barely held on in an up and down day for the league

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Comunicaciones Vs. Monterrey, CONCACAF Champions League: Monterrey In Trouble After 1-0 Loss

As the defending champions and arguably the most talented team in the CONCACAF Champions League, Monterrey weren't supposed to have any trouble making it out of the group stage, but after losing to the Seattle Sounders at home on match day two, it put them in a position where they needed to get some points from their match at Comunicaciones. With Humberto Suazo and Aldo de Nigris starting on the bench though, as well as a couple other starters sitting, they didn't have their best team and paid for it. The Guatemalan side got a goal and then held on with some very cynical play to defeat the title holders 1-0 and put Monterrey in serious trouble.

The lone goal of the match came just before halftime when Transito Montepeque spotted Carlos Andres Ramirez. Montepeque fed Ramirez, who got to the penalty spot and was able to beat Jonathan Orozco with a good shot to put the home side in front.

Once ahead, Comunicaciones didn't even bother pretending to play soccer. They hacked away at Monterrey whenever they got a chance, picking up all four of the yellow cards handed out by the referee in the match. The referee allowed a lot of the rough play and Comunicaciones only got rougher. In the end, it was less a soccer match and more a pile up of bodies every minute when Comunicaciones using every time wasting truck in the book.

In the end, Comunicaciones' time wasting and cynical play worked. They came away 1-0 winners and moved into second place in Group D, three points behind Seattle and three points clear of Monterrey. Next week Comunicaciones will visit Monterrey in a match the Mexicans almost certainly will need to win if they want to advance to the knockout stages.


CONCACAF Champions League, Herediano Vs. Seattle Sounders: Fredy Montero Leads The Way

The Seattle Sounders may have been the biggest disappointment in the last year's CONCACAF Champions League. Through three matches of this year's edition, they have so far been the best. After beating Herediano 2-1 on Wednesday, the Sounders are now the only undefeated team in the 16-side field.

This wasn't exactly the prettiest performance, but it was the kind of performance that has escaped MLS sides when they've visited Central America in years past. Early on, though, it seemed as if the Sounders may actually have a pretty easy time of it. Fredy Montero scored a 2nd minute goal to give the Sounders an early lead and throughout the first half, the Sounders had the better opportunities.

All that good play was essentially wasted, though, when Herediano was awarded a very questionable penalty in the 44th minute. Jose Cancela appeared to trip in the box on a free kick, but was ruled to have been knocked over. He then converted the penalty to equalize.

Montero was able to grab the lead back, though, when he put away Roger Levesque's cross in the 56th minute. It was Montero's fourth goal in his past three matches.

From there, the Sounders pretty much held on for dear life. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller was far more busy in the second half, although he only had to make two saves, and most of the Sounders' substitutions were of the defensive variety.

The Sounders now have nine points through three matches, two of which were on the road. They sit three points clear of second place Comunicaciones, who they already beat, and six points ahead of Monterrey. A win over Herediano at home on Tuesday could lock of the group and would ensure a trip to the quarterfinals.


FC Dallas Vs. Tauro FC, CONCACAF Champions League: Dallas Hangs On For 1-1 Draw

FC Dallas went on the road for their first two CONCACAF Champions League matches and did the hard work, picking up two wins. That set them up for what should have been a cushy home match against the worst team in the group, Tauro FC. Dallas eased up a bit in the match, resting several of their top players and paid for it. Despite going up 1-0, they gave up an equalizer and had to hold on late just to earn a 1-1 tie against a Tauro team that outplayed them down the stretch.

A mere 23 seconds into the match, Dallas found themselves in front through Daniel Cruz. The Belgian struck the ball well and stunned Tauro as the home side went ahead before all nine fans in attendance found their seats.

That scoreline held until the 40th minute when Ugo Ihemelu went in on a bad challenge on Rene Mendieta Jr. There was no need to leave his feet for a tackle with two teammates around, but Ihemelu did it and was rightly whistled for the foul and penalty. Luis Moreno took the shot and while it wasn't well struck, Kevin Hartman couldn't make the save even after guessing the right way.

The second half so a lot of Tauro going forward. They hit the post and forced some tremendous saves from Hartman as Dallas did their best to just hold on. The final whistle was blown and each team split the point, surely more of a relief to Dallas who are happy to be top of Group C on seven points.


CONCACAF Champions League, Pumas UNAM Vs. Toronto FC: Mexican Champs Have Their Way

Pumas UNAM scored four first-half goals and then put it into cruise control as they easily beat Toronto FC 4-0 in their CONCACAF Champions League group stage match on Wednesday. Pumas came out firing, opening the scoring in the 17th minute on a goal from Martin Bravo and never looked back. Braveo went on to score a hat trick.

It was a far different story the last time Pumas played a MLS team. In that game, they started what was essentially a reserve/youth side and lost to FC Dallas at home. In fact, they entered the game winless through the first two rounds of the group stage.

This time the defending Mexican Primera took no chances. Brave played all 90 minutes and finished off his hat trick with a 42nd minute goal. Efrain Velarde scored Pumas' other goal.

The win puts Pumas in second place of Group C after FC Dallas and Tauro tied. Pumas sit three points behind FC Dallas, who leads the group with seven points.


Real Espana Vs. Isidro Metapan, CONCACAF Champions League: Metapan Hold On For 2-1 Win

Isidro Metapan may not have been pegged as favorites to make it out of Group B of the CONCACAF Champions League, but they're in a good place right now. After defeating Real Espana 2-1 in Honduras, Metapan have moved joint top of the group alongside Santos Laguna. They're two points clear of Colorado and their only remaining match left against the Rapids is in El Salvador. All is looking well for Metapan at the halfway point of group stage play.

The scoring began just eight minutes in when Ernesto Aquino got across his defender and nodded home a corner kick for the opening tally. Metapan continued with their pressure, but couldn't turn it into another goal until after halftime. That's when Allan Kardeck got in behind the Real Espana defense and easily finished to double the Metapan lead. Carlos Pavon had a penalty saved late on, but he got to retake it because the keeper moved early and made the second, but all that did was cut the lead in half.

Metapan will face their toughest match of the group stage next week when they have to play Santos in Torreon, but then they get two home matches to finish group stage play. Meanwhile, Espana has just one point so far and essentially needs a win at Colorado next week to keep any hopes of advancing intact.


Colorado Rapids Vs. Santos Laguna, CONCACAF Champions League: Santos Dominate, 4-1

The match finished 4-1 and even that scoreline was flattering to the Colorado Rapids. That's because Santos Laguna walked into Dicks Sporting Goods Park and absolutely wiped the floor with the Rapids, outplaying them in every facet of the match. Whether it was more an impressive performance by Santos or more an embarrassing performance by Colorado is up for debate, but what is clear is that Santos are top of Group B now, while Colorado are now in a battle just to make it out of the group being down in third place.

It didn't even take a quarter of an hour for Santos to go on top. Daniel Luduena ripped a shot that eluded the Rapids' backup keeper Steward Ceus and the Mexican side were in front. Just 12 minutes later they had doubled their lead through Oribe Peralta, who the Rapids thought was offside, but was correctly rule to be on. He took a cross from Ivan Estrada and just had to tap the ball in to make it 2-0.

After the break, Carlos Quintero got i behind the Colorado defense and was not going to make a mistake, cooly slotting home a third Santos goal. That wasn't it though because Cristian Suarez still had a rip at the far post in him as he fired from the right side for a fourth goal that just further embarrassed the MLS side.

If Colorado had any problem it was that they were too aggressive. They started Omar Cummings, Macoumba Kandji and Sanna Nyassi, instead of just two of the three. It opened up a lot of space that Santos were all too happy to take. Brian Mullen added a late goal for Colorado, but that was not nearly enough as Santos cruised.

Santos now join Metapan atop Group B on six points, although they are in front on goal difference. The Rapids are two points back and surely regretting their inability to get full points from their trip to play Real Espana, the group's cellar dweller.


Monarcas Morelia Vs. LA Galaxy, CONCACAF Champions League: Referee 2, LA 1, Morelia Also Played

As a referee, you hope that nobody knows your name after the match. You hope that nobody notices you. You want the focus on the players and the play, not the guy running around with the whistle. The referee for the CONCACAF Champions League match between Monarcas Morelia and the LA Galaxy is named Gilberto Alacal Pineda and the final score was Pineda two, Galaxy one. Okay, the scoreboard said Morelia two, Galaxy one, but the referee allowed a Morelia goal that in no way should have been allowed then disallowed a perfectly good Galaxy goal, taking a win away from LA and completely changed the landscape of Group A.

LA had the first great chance of the match, but Omar Gonzalez's shot hit the post and bounced away to keep the match even at halftime. As a result, the two teams went into the break the same way they started the match.

Shortly after the second half got underway though, LA broke the deadlock. Robbie Keane gathered a long pass 20 yards from goal with just one defender to beat. He pushed the ball past the defender, got to it first and rocketed a shot home. The Irishman's quick play and good finish had the Galaxy in front in Morelia and with the way they were playing, they had good reason to believe they could hold on.

Then the referee got involved. An 83rd minute shot from distance was low and right at Josh Saunders. It was a ball he certainly should have handled, but it squirted by him. His scrambled back and jumped on the ball with it on the line, but not over it. Then, under pressure from a Morelia player he rolled over the ball and maybe (it wasn't clear on the replay), pushed the ball over the line. Even if it did go over the line, the player pressuring Saunders came from a blatantly offside position, which should have resulted in the flag going up, the whistle being blown and LA staying ahead, 1-0, but no. The referee gave the equalizing goal that may have never crossed the line and was a result of pressure from an offside player. 

In the final moments of the match, LA got a corner kick. The ball was swung in and headed down, forcing a save from Federico Vilar. He couldn't hold onto the ball though and Keane pounced, knocking the free ball home for the go-ahead goal. The problem is the referee didn't allow the goal. He waved it off, saying that Keane was offside on the header, only replays showed him not just to be onside, but onside by at least a yard, if not two. Legitimately LA goal waved off. Well done, Mr. Pineda.

Morelia came flying right back and earned a corner of their own. The kick found an unmarked Miguel Sabah who headed the ball right at the feet of Saunders, who should have been able to make the save. He didn't make the save though and Morelia had themselves a 92nd minute winner. 

To place complete blame on Pineda is a little harsh. The blame should go on the three-man refereeing crew considering each missed offside, or onside call was made by a different assistant referee so they deserve the bulk of the blame, but Pineda blew, or didn't blow the whistle. The point is this. A win that should have undoubtedly gone to the Galaxy went to Morelia because of the referees.

Instead of being in first place in Group A and six points clear of second place, LA is now tied with Morelia atop the group and actually in second place because of goal difference. Alajuelense are also just three points behind them with a match in hand. So thank you referees, you just completely changed Group A.

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