CONCACAF Champions League 2011, Matchday 4: Mexicans Continue To Thrive As Santos Win 6-0

Pumas got two late goals thanks to the brilliance of Emilio Orrantia and defeated Dallas, meanwhile Alajuelense hung on for a deserved win over LA

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Santos Laguna Vs. Isidro Metapan, 2011 CONCACAF Champions League: Santos Put Up 6 Spot

I think Santos Laguna are safe again. After a loss to Isidro Metapan on the second match day of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage, there was concern as to how strong the team really is and how they would do in the competition. Worry no more. They are safe. They also got some payback. Santos completely destroyed Metapan on Thursday night, picking up a 6-0 win and moving to the top of Group B with nine points, three points clear of second place Metapan.

Santos' dominating started from the opening kickoff, but it wasn't until the 21st minute that they finally got on the scoreboard thanks to a strike from Jose Cardenas. Seven minutes later, Carlos Darwin Quintero doubled that lead. It was the first of two goals for the Colombian in the match, joining Oribe Peralta in the two-goal club. By halftime, Santos led 3-0, then they added three more in the second half as they wrapped up an embarrassment of Metapan.

Amazingly, if anything Santos didn't score as many as they should have. They had over 20 shots and missed some chances they should have put away, meanwhile Metapan had just two shots all match, neither of which was on target. Yeah, Santos spanked them.


Colorado Rapids Vs. Real España, 2011 CONCACAF Champions League: Rapids Poor In 2-1 Loss

With a tough fight for a playoff spot ahead for the Colorado Rapids, head coach Gary Smith decided to play it safe with his injury-riddled team and make eight changes for Wednesday night's CONCACAF Champions League match against Real España. His team selection predictably backfired as Colorado lost 2-1 at home to the weakest team in their CCL group. Colorado is now last in Group B and looks unlikely to qualify for the knockout stages.

Carlos Pavon, Real España's leading scorer, netted both of his team's goals on the night, with both coming in the first half. Colorado's goal was scored by Andre Akpan, scored in between both of Pavon's strikes.

The loss was the second consecutive home loss in the competition for Colorado. Their last two games in the competition are both away games, against Idrisio Metapan and Santos Laguna. Even against second choice squads from both of those teams, they will likely be hard pressed to get a result with a second choice team of their own.


Alajuelense Vs. LA Galaxy, 2011 CONCACAF Champions League: Pablo Gabas Free Kicks Wins It For Hosts

For 90 minutes, Alajuelense was better than the Los Angeles Galaxy, which made it just when they were able to hang on late for a 1-0 win over their American visitors. The two entered the night as part of a three-way tie for first place in Group A of the CONCACAF Champions League so there was a lot riding on the match and the fans in Costa Rica knew it, filling the stadium with singing and chanting for all 90 minutes. In the end, they got to go home happy thanks to pablo Gabas, whose brilliant free kick won the match for the home side.

Over the course of the match, he Galaxy gave away several free kicks in their own half, but most were from a long ways out and weren't supposed to threaten them much. They defend set pieces extraordinarily well so they were safe giving away fouls more than 25 yards from goal, right? Wrong. They didn't account for Gabas who decided that being more than 25 yards away didn't have to stop him from having a go at goal. He absolutely ripped a shot into the upper corner for an incredible goal and one that proved to be the winner.

For most of the match, Alajuelense were the better side. They pressured the Galaxy's midfield and forced give aways. They got open wide and forced the Galaxy to make many scrambling clearances. LA had trouble tracking their runs from the midfield and they had to retreat to keep the hosts from getting chance after chance. That left them in a poor position to attack and they struggled to create chances. Their one good chance came on a spilled shot, but despite having most of the goal to shoot at, Landon Donovan rushed and put the rebound wide of the frame.

Late on, the Galaxy earned several corner kicks. With David Beckham hitting them and several towering players, LA has been deadly on set pieces all year, but Alajuelense was able to clear every LA corner kick and hold on for the win.

The win moves Alajuelense to the top of Group A on nine points. LA remains in a tie with Morelia on six points, but Morelia does have a match in hand. They will play Motagua on Thursday.


FC Dallas Vs. UNAM Pumas, 2011 CONCACAF Champions League: Two Late Goals Propel Pumas

Nobody will remember the CONCACAF Champions League tilt between FC Dallas and UNAM pumas for its quality. For the most part, it was an absolutely dreadful match and lacked anything memorable. What it did have though is a tussle that led to two red cards and Emilio Orrantia showing why he is one of the bright young players in Mexico as he created both of Pumas' goals in their 2-0 win.

For 39 minutes, there was absolutely nothing worth watching. Then, Luis Fuentes took offense to Jackson trying to go through his back for a ball and decided the best way to respond was with a headbutt. Not smart. Less smart was Jackson responding with a half-hearted kind of, maybe slap. The result was both players seeing red and forcing their teams to play down a man for 50 minutes.

It looked like it wouldn't matter that the field had two less people on it because the second half was as boring as the first. There wasn't anything worth watching. Dallas came close once and Kevin Hartman had to make a couple saves to deny Pumas, but no one would call it beautiful or fluid play.

Then, Orrantia found his way into the match. In the 83rd minute, he went right by Jeremy Hall and fed Eduardo Herrera in front for an easy finish. Pumas has themselves their winner, but Orrantia weren't done. Just for good measure, Orrantis burned Hall one more time in the 90th minute and found David Izazola in front. Like Herrera's finish, Izazola didn't have much to do and he slammed the ball home for the 2-0 Pumas victory.

The Pumas win moves them even on points with FC Dallas and on top of Group C on goal difference. Toronto FC does loom just one point behind both though.


Seattle Sounders Vs. Herediano, 2011 CONCACAF Champions League: Sounders Downed 1-0 At Home By Last Place Team

A terrible match at CenturyLink Field leads to a terrible result for the Seattle Sounders, who fielded a very weak starting lineup and paid the consequences, losing their 100% racord and putting their place as leaders of Group D in jeopardy with a 1-0 loss to Costa Rican guests Herediano, who had lost all three of their matches in CONCACAF Champions League play before making the trip up to the Pacific Northwest.

The Sounders' strategy of impersonating the Colorado Rapids by lobbing long balls up to Nate Jaqua and hoping something happened was fundamentally flawed for two reasons. The first was that Nate Jaqua didn't have a clue what to do with the passes once the got there, and the second involved the team's aim being abysmal. Time after time possession ended with a dreadful long pass, and after Jaqua saw a shot deflected over an open goal (his best chance of the game), Herediano struck via free kick, Josimar Arias sending a 30-yard scorcher over the wall and into the back of Kasey Keller's net.

With the Sounders chasing a goal, Sigi Schmid introduced his best players in the middle of the second half, sending Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso out onto the pitch to put more pressure on the visitors. It worked, but only to a point - the hosts were much improved but still failed to crack Daniel Cambronero in Heredia's net. Their very last chance of the match was saved in spectacular fashion, with the goalkeeper clawing away a header by substitute Samuel Ochoa, but ultimately, Seattle didn't deserve a goal, and didn't get one.

With Monterrey beating Comunicaciones, the Sounders maintain their three-point lead at the top of the group, but this was a chance to turn qualification into a formality. Not only did the hosts fail to take it, they embarrassed themselves in the process.


Monterrey Vs. Comunicaciones, 2011 CONCACAF Champions League: Holders Get Vital Win

Monterrey are the most talented team in the CONCACAF Champions League and the title holders, but they went into their match on Tuesday facing elimination. A loss at home to Comunicaciones and not only would it be embarrassing, but it could be the nail in their tournament coffin. With that in mind, the Mexican side started both Humberto Suazo and Aldo de Nigris for only the second time in the competition as part of a first choice lineup and it paid off as they took down the Guatemalans, 3-1.

Luis Perez put his stamp on the match from the beginning starring for Monterrey and then helping his team go on front when he assisted on Sergio Santana's opening goal. Suazo made his impact on the other side of halftime when he drew a penalty and it was Perez who put the penalty home to double the home side's lead. Carlos Mejia did his best to get Comunicaciones back in the match when he cut the Monterrey lead in half, but not long after de Nigris fed Suazo for a goal that put the match on ice.

With the win, Monterrey moves in front of Comunicaciones on goal difference for second place with both tied on six points. The Seattle Sounders still hold first place on nine points and they have a match in hand, making it likely that they will win the group. Both Comunicaciones and Monterrey still have to play the Sounders, but the Guatemalans have the edge because they host the Sounders, while Monterrey has to travel to Seattle on the final match day.


Toronto FC Vs. Tauro FC, 2011 CONCACAF Champions League: Hosts Ease To 1-0 Victory

With just three points in three games in CONCACAF Champions League Group B, Toronto FC needed a win at BMO field against last place Tauro FC. They were hard pressed at times but ultimately got the job done thanks to a first-half header by Danny Koevermans and then a bustling second half where they mostly kept their visitors penned back in their own territory. Toronto had beaten Tauro in Panama in their first game of this CCL campaign, and once they grabbed the goal the result was never really in doubt here either.

That's not to say that the hosts played particularly well, but despite being relatively uninspired Toronto were fairly comfortable in holding onto their 1-0 lead. Tauro helped them out a great deal by being pretty woeful - not creating chances, losing possession in stupid fashion, and seemingly unable to deal with a basic midfield press. The Panamanians did have a chance to tie it up right at the death, but blasted a last-second free kick straight into the wall before Terry Vaughn blew his whistle for full time. The win pushes Toronto up to second in the group, behind FC Dallas, and two points ahead of UNAM Pumas, who would have a game in hand. No guarantees, but the win is helpful.

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