The greatest tournament in all the land had two games earlier today. The mighty Xelaju of Guatamala vs Monterrey of Mexico in game 1. Followed by the Seattle Sounders of Los Estados Unidos vs Tigres of Mexico. Xelaju vs Monterrey:
This game was physical. Since I was busy talking to Rudy (who should have the Santos v Houston game recapped soon) I missed the first 25 minutes of this game. When I showed up Monterrey was up 1-0 thanks to a goal from Mier who banged in a rebound off a set piece. Xelaju tried to get physical with the more talented team from Mexico. This did not work out so well. As the first half wore on it was clear that Xelaju was outclassed. In the 40th minute Aldo de Nigris drove that point home after some shocking defending left him one on one with the goalkeeper. The keeper inexplicably comes flying out and de Nigris deftly goes around him and easily finishes to put Monterrey comfortably up 2-0 going into halftime.
Inexplicably I bet Stephen Piggott $20 that Xelaju would win over the course of two legs. This game was in Guatemala. I am losing $20.
The second half was initially a bit better for the Guatemalans as Estacuy scored on what can only be described as cross that somehow managed to get over the goal keeper and find the back of the net. Strange goal but excellent play from Estacuy as he was also a victim of a rather rash challenge in the box just after hitting the ball. Might have earned a penalty even if he didn't score. Momentarily my wallet was given hope that it wouldn't have to surrender money to Piggott.
More hope was given when a blazing effort from a wide open Chupete Suazo was stuffed by the rather skinny leg of Xelaju keeper Fernando Patterson. I began to think if Patterson can play like that the rest of the game Xelaju may nick a draw! Oh how wrong I was. Jesus Corona buries my hope underneath a mountain of beer bottles as he scores in the 76th minute. Shocking defending leaves Patterson out to dry as Corona drinks in the opportunity to finish off this game.
Seattle vs Tigres:
Thankfully I didn't put any money on this game. Of course if I did it would be on Tigres. The odds on favorite to win the tournament. Tigres are playing out of their mind right now in Liga MX. Undefeated in the first 9 games of the Clausura. Sitting atop the table just 1 point in front of the equally impressive Atlas. This team is loaded with talent. Carlos Salcido, Lucas Lobos, Jose Torres, Emmanuel Villa, Hugo Ayala, just to name a few.
Seattle on the other hand is an MLS squad just starting their season. They also are in a bit of transition with some major signings that haven't happened yet. The game in Mexico is a huge test for them. Getting a draw would be a huge result. Winning would be a god damn miracle.
First half: Tigres controls most of possession. A hilariously bad mistake by Sounders goalkeeper Gspurning in the third minute leaves him perilously out of position. Lobos rounds what is left of Gspurning and shoots only to have the ball cleared off the line by the foot Gonzalez. Golden chance completely wasted. Tigres continues to control the ball for much of the half. Creating a few opportunities here and there but unable to convert any of them. Seattle's strength grows as the half goes on. They gain a bit of possession and earn a free few kicks. You can literally see them realize that they can hold their own against this mighty powerhouse of a team. The halftime whistle blows and the score is still 0-0. Unbelievable.
Second half: Tigres continues to hold the bulk of possession. Which is really no surprise. They are the better team at home. Seattle content to sit back, defend and look to counter. Eddie Johnson is starting to look spry. His size should be a problem for the smallish central defenders for Tigres. In the 70th minute he has an inspired bit of play as he dribbles through several Tigres defenders and just controls the ball until he has it taken away from him on what may have been a foul (nothing was called). The Tigres faithful up the volume and fervor of their chants. The stadium is rather full. You can tell this game is important to them. GOAL TIGRES! The Seattle defense just quits as they think Tigres is offsides. Gspurning saves the first shot from Lobos but the rebound is easily headed in by Pulido. The replay shows that both of those players are onsides! There was a Tigres player floating in an offsides position but he heads away from goal and is clearly not involved in the play. Zack Scott keeps THREE Tigres players onsides. Absolutely shocking lack of effort from the Seattle back line after the play was clearly continuing. Excellent work from the line judge on that play.
Sounders earn their first corner in the 80th minute. Which should show you exactly how dominant Tigres have been all game. Seattle brings in a defensive sub as they look to contain the damage. Smart coaching decision from Sigi Schmid. Seattle gets to play at home in front of what will sure be an amazing crowd in the second leg. If they can get home only down 1 goal they have a legitimate shot at getting through to the Semi Finals.
The Sounders almost score in the 82nd minute. Excellent save from Palos on Neagle who had worked himself into a dangerous position in front of goal. Some nice service from Martinez initiated the opportunity. Seattle starts to control things a bit more as Tigres take their foot off the gas and look to be a bit more defensive. Seattle's strikers continue to work hard as the midfield drops back a bit to aid in keeping the defensive shape. Eddie Johnson and Lamar Neagle continue to pressure the Tigres back line and almost manage to create a few opportunities.
88th minute Lucas Lobos swims around the youngster Yedlin and puts in a great cross that is headed away by Gonzalez at the last second. Tigres still pressing for another goal. Silly free kick conceded by Hurtado in a dangerous position. Free kick bounces harmlessly to Gspurning. That could have gone much worse. Eddie Johnson bursts down the left flank but he ends up wasting it by hitting a less than optimal cross. Still good work from the Sounders. Final whistle blows without any further incident. Seattle has to be incredibly happy with this result.
Great night of CCL action. My wallet may be a bit lighter in the long run but it is totally worth it. We will have recaps of all CCL action going forward. Rudy Gomez should be by with a recap of last nights Santos vs Houston game and Stephen Piggott will have his thoughts up sometime Friday on the LA Galaxy v Herediano game that takes place on Thursday evening.