The CONCACAF Champions League participants from the North American-based leagues started the week off well as the Group Stage of the tournament began. MLS clubs won three of four, Mexican sides were unbeaten in three with two wins, and Puerto Rico played to a draw for an overall record of five wins, two draws and pair of losses. Professional postseason action began in the United States with the USL Second Division Semifinal between Richmond and Pittsburgh.
Major League Soccer
It was a tough week for the New England Revolution, who saw their eight-game unbeaten run in MLS and SuperLiga play come to an end in Chicago, 2-1, in the lone midweek contest Wednesday. They then traveled south and dropped a second match, 4-1, Saturday in Kansas City, allowing the Fire and Wizards to pull ahead of them in the table.
On a busy Saturday, New York ended the amazing 17-game league home unbeaten run of Toronto FC, which was coming off a surprising 2-1 win over current two-time CCL finalist Cruz Azul. The 4-1 defeat, sparked by a spectacular Rafa Marquez strike to open the scoring, was Toronto’s first of the year at home. The Red Bulls, however, were unable to gain ground on Columbus as the Crew were 3-1 winners at home against Colorado, capping a week that included a 1-0 win over Municipal.
In a pair of tight affairs for the two Los Angeles clubs, Chivas USA fell, 1-0, at Dallas while the Galaxy were surprised by San Jose, 1-0. Dallas is now unbeaten over the past 11 contests.
Houston and DC ended lengthy slumps. Brian Ching netted a hat-trick that included a bicycle kick in a 4-3 win against the Fire, who tied the game in the 81st minute before Ching hit the winner five minutes from time Saturday. The win ended a 10-game winless run in league play and an overall 13-game winless streak against MLS opponents in league, SuperLiga and Open Cup action. The next day United followed suit, ending a five-game losing streak, seven winless, on a pair of Danny Allsopp goals against Philadelphia, whose luck has not matched the effort with a current six-game winless stretch.
The league-leading Rochester Rhinos picked up two victories on the week to extend their winning streak to six matches. They opened the week with a 2-0 win at Baltimore Wednesday and returned home Saturday for a 3-1 win against Miami, who also dropped a Wednesday night contest in Carolina, 2-1.
On Thursday, Tampa Bay played a 1-1 draw against NASL Conference leader Vancouver, extending the Rowdies’ winless stretch to five matches. Friday saw another 1-1 draw as Puerto Rico, fresh off a 1-1 CCL draw against Olimpia, visited St Louis.
Baltimore dropped its second match of the week Saturday in a 5-0 drubbing to visiting Montreal as the Impact snapped a five-game winless series. Minnesota’s unfortunate run, however, continued as the Stars fell, 1-0, to visiting Portland, to hit seven consecutive without a win.
On Sunday, Austin got back to its winning ways, 3-2, against Carolina, after seeing a seven-game unbeaten run end the week before.
USL Second Division Semifinal
Richmond Kickers 2-0 Pittsburgh Riverhounds
After dropping the season series against Pittsburgh with a win, draw and two losses, the Richmond Kickers scored twice in a game against the Riverhounds for the first time this season in the league semifinal. Matthew Delicate scored the opening goal in the 37th minute and set up Bobby Foglesong in the 50th to secure a return trip to the final to defend the title against the Charleston Battery. It is the Kickers’ fifth appearance in the last six years and eighth in USL league play.
Mexican Primera Review
After another dominating Champions League performance, Santos Laguna’s run of perfection came to an end with a surprising 1-0 loss on the road to one-win Tigres Saturday. Cruz Azul, losers in Toronto, took advantage with a win on the road against Jaguares to pull level. Toluca finally earned its first victory with a narrow decision against fellow winless side Atlas.
Friday, August 20
Estudiantes Tecos 3-2 San Luis
Sammy Ochoa opened the scoring 23 minutes in for the home side, but the visitors leveled through Michael Arroyo a minute before the break on a left-footed effort from the left side. A throw-in found its way to Diego Jimenez in the 73rd minute to restore the hosts’ advantage with a volley, but San Luis found another equalizer five minutes later. A mid-range effort from Tressor Moreno that goalkeeper Christian Martinez mishandled allowed Anibal Matellan to score. A free kick from Ramon Morales seven minutes from time decided the outcome. Scoring – ET: Sammy Ochoa 23; SL: Michael Arroyo 44; ET: Diego Jimenez 73; SL Anibal Matellan 78; ET: Ramon Morales 83
Saturday, August 21
Jaguares 2-3 Cruz Azul
Christian Gimenez opened his hat-trick performance on a free kick in the 16th minute to give the visitors the lead after having lost in Toronto midweek in Champions League. But Cruz Azul saw the advantage wiped away on a free kick from Jorge Rodriguez on the half hour mark and found themselves trailing after four minutes of the second stanza when goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona was unable to handle a long ball just outside the edge of the box, allowing Edgar Andrade to put away the easy chance. Gimenez earned his second on a rocket in the 62nd and finished the hat-trick with the winner in the 78th. Scoring – CA: Christian Gimenez 16; JAG: Jorge Rodriguez 30; JAG: Edgar Andrade 49; CA: Christian Gimenez 62; CA: Christian Gimenez 78
Pachuca 2-2 Monterrey
The hosts took the lead seven minutes into the action when a long free kick was headed in by Dario Cvitanich, but Monterrey rallied in the second half to take the advantage. Humberto Suazo leveled on a fine play, chesting a cross down and one-timing it off the bounce inside the far post in the 69th. Nine minutes later a cross from the right found Aldo De Nigris near the far post, where he rose above the defender to send a looping header over the keeper. Pachuca earned a split of the points on a controversial play in the 90th minute as a corner headed on goal by Daniel Arreola at the near post was swatted out by the netminder, but was ruled as having crossed the line. Scoring – PAC: Dario Cvitanich 7; MON: Humberto Suazo 69; MON: Aldo De Nigris 78; PAC: Daniel Arreola 90
Tigres UANL 1-0 Santos Laguna
A long, low free kick through the Santos Laguna defense, which had allowed just one goal in four previous games, proved to be the difference as Juninho’s ninth minute strike stood for the win. The defense of Tigres, unbeaten since their 1-0 opening week loss, stood firm as the club has allowed only three goals through five games. Scoring – TIG: Juninho 9
Atlas 0-1 Toluca
It looked as though Toluca was going to finish its sixth overall match of the campaign without a win before Antonio Naelson made a great move to fire home the winner two minutes into stoppage time. Scoring – TOL: Zinha 92+
Atlante 2-1 Guadalajara
After falling in the Copa Libertadores Final earlier in the week, it looked like Chivas Guadalajara were going to rebound well when Omar Bravo scored just a minute into the contest. The club came charging down the field and Bravo ran onto the ball in the box before tapping it aside to leap over the keeper’s tackle and finish into the empty net. It unraveled two minutes later with the send-off of Edgar Mejia and a corner in the fourth was headed in by Nicolas Torres to level the score. A cross from the right side in the 36th found Johan Fano, who headed in from 10 yards to give Atlante its first win of the season. Scoring – GUA: Omar Bravo 1; ATL: Nicolas Torres 4; ATL: Johan Fano 36
Sunday, August 22
Morelia 1-0 Necaxa
Newly-promoted Necaxa nearly posted another impressive result only to see a draw escape their clutches in the 74th minute when Rafael Marquez received the ball on the right side and rifled a shot past the keeper for Morelia’s third win in four matches. Scoring – MOR: Rafael Marquez 74
Pumas UNAM 4-1 Puebla
Puebla suffered their first loss as the home side ran away in the second half. Pumas held the advantage at the break on a Dante Lopez goal in the 27th. Puebla tied it up in the 64th when Orlando Rincon put away a rebound. Juan Cacho replied with two consecutive strikes, finishing a cross from Leandro Augusto in the 69th and following it up in the 78th. Lopez wrapped it up with a shot off the underside of the crossbar in the 90th. Scoring – PUM: Dante Lopez 27; PUE: Yasser Corona 63; PUM: Juan Cacho 69; PUM: Juan Cacho 78; PUM: Dante Lopez 90
Queretaro 0-1 America
Queretaro’s fast start has given way to three without a win while America extended its unbeaten run to four. A minute into the second half the visitors found the deciding marker when Daniel Montenegro blasted a shot in off the right post. Scoring – AME: Daniel Montenegro 46