The CONCACAF Champions League title has been Monterrey's for two consecutive years and they took a step towards making it three straight on Wednesday, beating the LA Galaxy 1-0 and 3-1 on aggregate to book a spot in the final. The Rayados will now meet up with Santos Laguna in a rematch of last year's final.
LA's gameplan was to pressure the Monterrey defenders and take away the passing lanes to Jesus Zavala and Walter Ayovi, which they did superbly. That forced Monterrey into playing long balls, where Omar Gonzalez was asked to single-handedly clear away the danger and he did. Time and time again, Gonzalez won balls in the air, frustrating Humberto Suazo, Aldo De Nigris and Monterrey.
Gonzalez was excellent on the ground, too. When Monterrey did play through the midfield they were able to work their way into the final third and create some fine chances, but Gonzalez was there every time to turn them away.
For the first 80 minutes, the Galaxy's approach worked well. They minimized Monterrey's chances and created some of their own, often from set pieces, but also from open play. None of the chances were clear cut, but against a good Monterrey team, getting the ball into the box and shots away was as good as the Galaxy were going to do. From there, it was going to take some luck or a moment of brilliance to give them a chance of overturning the 2-1 first leg deficit.
Unfortunately for LA, that luck never came and in the 81st minute, De Nigris made it two wins in two tries this tie for Monterrey when he finished Cesar Delgado's wonderful play. Delgado raced down the left, getting in behind the Galaxy defense and to the endline. Gonzalez could only mark one of Suazo and De Nigris and he chose Suazo, who was right in front of goal. That left De Nigris wide open to receive Delgado's drag back and put a bow on Monterrey's return to the final.