The CONCACAF Champions League group stage came to a close on Thursday with a pair of very different matches: one for a spot in the knockout stages and another that did not mean a thing. Unfortunately for the Houston Dynamo, they lost theirs, the one that mattered, while the LA Galaxy sent their reserves to get crushed in El Salvador.
Arabe Unido 1-0 Houston Dynamo
With the final match of the MLS regular season set for the weekend and the Dynamo's playoff lives on the line, Dominic Kinnear sent the reserves to Panama, where their Champions League dreams came to an end. Houston only needed a draw to advance and while the first half was plenty sloppy, it looked like that would be enough for the Dynamo. After all, Arabe Unido couldn't muster anything of substance going forward.
But the match turned in the 52nd minute when Jose Gonzalez managed a goal seemingly out of nowhere, and fitting for the match, it ugly. Tyler Deric turned away a shot, but Gonzalez hit a looping header off the rebound that the goalkeeper's finger tips couldn't keep out. The ball creeped over the line and Arabe Unido were bound for the quarterfinals.
Isidro Metapan 4-0 LA Galaxy
The Galaxy already clinched first place in Group 8 so they didn't bother with the match. Only two regulars started in El Salvador and Nicolas Munoz took advantage. He scored a hat trick in four minutes, then added another goal to put an exclamation point on a dominating performance for the home side to give them their first Champions League win of the campaign.