The Quarterfinals continue! Xelaju goes on the road 2 goals down and will need a miracle in Monterrey to advance. Seattle goes home only down 1 against Tigres feeling confident that they can advance. Monterrey vs Xelaju:
As some of you may recall this is the game where I 'bet' Stephen Piggott $20 that Xelaju would win over 2 legs. I can already see Stephen's fingers inside my wallet. This does not make me happy. I'm rooting for a miracle tonight. Xelaju will need to score 3 to even think about advancing. A 3-0 will put them through. A 3-1 scoreline will force extra time.
The Monterrey fans are out in full force. Behind the goal fans are jumping around chanting. You can hear the drums. The atmosphere is fantastic to start the match.
Monterrey rewards their fans by controlling the action in the first five minutes. Forcing a few early saves as they press for a goal. Xelaju have zero possession. Their travelling fan section is SITTING and looking sad already.
Xelaju is already turning the ball over. They look nervous and overmatched ten minutes in. It is as if the team and their fans expect the worst tonight. If they somehow manage to only lose by one goal that might be considered a success by everyone involved.
21st minute Xelaju excitingly holds possession. Somehow gets in a cross that gets headed just wide of the goal! Their first real positive play of the game. They are starting to stop the bleeding defensively. Monterrey is starting to sit back defensively and allow the central defenders some space. Immediately after I write this Xelaju 'concedes' a free kick just outside the box. This was a terrible call by the referee Marcos Brea. Nothing results from the free kick or the TWO resulting corners.
27th minute Xelaju get a lazy flick at goal from one of their strikers (whose number I am having a hard time identifying, fuzzy Galavision feed tonight). Another half chance for them which is now two more than I thought they would get tonight.
Monterrey continues to dominate possession but is failing to create any good chances out of their possession. Xelaju is holding up well defensively but the Monterrey offense is being a bit lazy. Being up 2 goals at home does that to you.
35th minute, golden chance blown by Monterrey. Madrigal just can't get his diving shot on frame.
Free kick for Xelaju 38th minute forces a great save out of Ibarra. Monterrey bursts on the counter attack but Xelaju snuffs it out. This game continues to be very weird. Monterrey holding most the possession but Xelaju holding the fort defensively. Admittedly this is mostly the Monterrey B team outside of Suazo.
OFF THE POST for Monterrey. Rebound doesn't even yield a shot on goal as Madrigal dives embarrassingly. HOLY MOTHER OF CHRIST XELAJU SCORE 45th minute! Great header off a free kick just outside the box. Santiago is just given a free header. Great service, excellent finish. The replay shows us that a Xelaju attacker looks to have tackled a Monterrey defender allowing the free header. Actually both players had their arms around each other. The Monterrey defender had his man in a headlock. CCL action is fantastic!
HALFTIME: Xelaju need 2 goals in the second half to get through. Miracle online?
Here we go. Things start much like the first half with Monterrey controlling possession. This should surprise no one. Xelaju continues to sit back in their sort of effective defensive shell looking to counter attack. Xelaju creates a couple of chances but nothing that really challenges the goal keeper. Monterrey continues their solid possession rates but hasn't created anything good yet in this half.
Thirty minutes to go: De la Pena gets off a great shot that sails just wide for the Monterrey midfielder. Ayovi with an excellent free kick from outside the box scores for Monterrey. That should end this thing.
And it did
Seattle vs Tigres
Tigres has sent a B Team to the show. Jonathan Bornstein is starting tonight! Amazing. Is it wrong of me to hope they win with the B team? No? Good. Seattle starts what looks to be their normal starting 11. Place is packed but not nearly as loud as Monterrey.
Ten minutes into this and Seattle is really pushing. Tigres is up to the task so far. Good work from their goalkeeper de Leon. Tigres routinely has 6 defenders back in front of their keeper. They need to do a better job of closing down on the Seattle attackers. To much space allowed for the cross. Sammy Ochoa has some skills in the air as does Eddie Johnson.
Tigres pushing up the field a bit and starting to control the ball a bit more. 9 changes in their side tonight. Defensively they are very composed.
Tigres GOAL! Bornstein(!) with an excellent ball to Acosta who shoulders Yedlin off the ball and then makes a good pass to Hernandez who finishes past a beaten Gspurning. 23rd minute goal has just suddenly made Seattle's job so much harder. They will need to win 3-1 to advance. I am so very, very happy (because Fuck Seattle).
29th minute: Gspurning has a Gigantico-Enormous save on Acosta who picks up the trash off a corner kick. Well done by the Seattle keeper whose defense is sucking.
The Tigres defense is so good right now. Composed sitting back and absorbing the Seattle attack. They are also able to get forward and ave some very clever corner and free kick opportunities.
35th minute: Eddie Johnson creates two (TWO!) opportunities and fails to convert either. Pushes his first attempt wide. The replay shows that to be a difficult opportunity. His second opportunity he beats his man into the box and somehow doesn't put the shot on frame putting it just wide of the post. HILARIOUS (or heartbre. . . hahah no, hilarious).
de Leon makes a nice save in the 40th minute grabbing the ball out of the air after a corner rebound. Brian Dunseth is blabbering on how he didn't come out of the box or some such nonsense. Yet he has SIX defenders in the box with him. He is making saves and letting his defense clean up the mess. So far it is working and I'm finding it hard to fault him for any of his plays so far.
Tigres down to 10 men. Viniegra kicks the ball away from Alonso after he goes to pick it up and gets a second yellow. Shocking that the ref was even paying attention and even more surprising he gave a yellow. Wow.
HALFTIME: Tigres up but now down a man. This should be a very entertaining second half.
Second half starts and Osvaldo Alonso gets himself a yellow card to start this half off. This was so stupid. Alonso will probably get sent off sometime in this half. Tigres even down a man look very composed. They are getting forward still. It is only three guys but they are at least holding some possession.
54rth minute. Yedlin scores for Seattle off a shot that took a deflection off a defenders head. Good shot from the youngster. Redeems himself for his early defensive misstep. Seattle still need 2 goals and have 35 minutes to do it in.
Seattle pressing for goals but still conceding to much possession to Tigres. The Mexican side is very disciplined in their formation. Everyone is where they should be while down a man. Very disciplined side.
60th minute. QUE GOLAZO Djimi Traore with a fucking BOMB from the outside that goes in off the bottom of the cross bar. Insane shot. Momentum shifter. Holy shit.
Here come the Sounders. Bombing down the field. A shot gets blasted over the bar! AYE AYE says Ray Hudson somewhere in Florida (because you know he is watching this shit, addict). Tigres is battening down the hatches. Crazy defending. Some terrific man marking from the Mexicans is happening here. de Leon was completely off his line and beaten but somehow gets back and makes the save.
Pulido with a great run and almost is able to convert at the back post! Just misses the ball. Tigres is starting to hold some position but ends up conceding a free kick outside the box
Eddie Johnson ends up beating the keeper to the near post (PROTECT YOUR POST SON) to put Seattle up in the 75th minute.
Tigres fighting valiantly to gain some possession. Proving to be very difficult. Playing a man down without their normal group of players is really affecting Tigres right now.
4 minutes of stoppage time. Tigres trying desperately to put something on goal. Bornstein in the box earns a corner! Tigres pushes it just wide. Aye. Almost an amazing finish. Gspurning never moved. Seattle has gotten the ball to the corner and is winning the corner battle. Final Whistle. Classy move from Ricardo Ferretti as he goes over smiles and hugs Sigi.
Wow. Amazing game.
Great night of CCL action. Will check in tomorrow with recaps of LA vs Herediano and Houston vs Santos.