Monterrey look on their way to their third consecutive CONCACAF Champions League final after coming from behind to defeat the LA Galaxy 2-1 in the first leg of their semifinal on Wednesday. Humberto Suazo and Aldo de Negris struck twice in the last eight minutes to earn Monterrey, the two-time defending champions, a great win in LA that sends them back home with a foot in their final.
The Galaxy were the far better side in the early going, but they lacked creativity and sharpness in the final third. For all of their forays forward, they failed to turn them into chances with regularity. While they did get one goal, they would be left to rue the first half hour when they were on the front foot and could have had two or three goals if they were better.
A.J. DeLaGarza gave LA the lead in the 28th minute with a nifty flick off of a knocked down header from Mike Magee. The defender looked a natural in front of goal -- or maybe just lucky because his flick could have been an accident -- to give LA a lead they deserved after some fine early play.
But Monterrey started to grab a better hold of the match, and while they hardly overwhelmed LA, they did grab an upper hand. Some last-minute clearances kept the Galaxy in front as they did their best to hold onto their lead, but Monterrey's superior talent kept them under pressure and eventually they broke down.
The Galaxy failed to clear a Monterrey cross as both the defense and goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini watched the ball fall in front of goal. That was like a gift for Suazo, who quickly hopped on the chance and knocked it into the goal for the equalizer in the 82nd minute.
While a draw would have still been a disappointing result for LA, especially having conceded an away goal, a loss would just about crush their chances of advancing to the final. Enter de Nigris.
The striker beat a flat-footed Omar Gonzalez to score in stoppage time and earn Monterrey an away win in the first leg, which could also be called a Galaxy dagger.
Monterrey are two-time defending CONCACAF Champions League champions, and after beating LA on Wednesday night, they have all but booked their spot in the final where they can make it three straight.