04 August, 2010

CONCACAF Champions League Groups Set

For the second straight night, Galavision had a doubleheader of CONCACAF Champions League elimination matches, featuring one MLS and one Mexican League team. Tonight's games were the LA Galaxy trying to overcome a 4-1 deficit against the Puerto Rico Islanders, and Santos Laguna of Torreon, Mexico, hosting San Juan Jabloteh of Trinidad with a 1-0 away win on the books already.

The LA Galaxy would need four goals on the road to advance, as a 3-0 win would not be good enough, giving Puerto Rico the win on away goals. So, LA started their top team: Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle, Tristan Bowen, Donovan Ricketts in goal, big Omar Gonzalez at center back, and, best of all if you are a Galaxy supporter, NO Gregg Berhalter, thank goodness.

Predictably, Landon Donovan regularly blew past the defense, but Puerto Rico goalkeeper Bill Gaudette (who comes from Hummelstown, PA, a town of about 4000 people) saved everything Landon blasted his way. Edson Buddle was involved in the game's first goal, but not in a good way. As a high cross sailed harmlessly overhead, Edson Buddle inexplicably pulled down Marco Velez in the penalty area, and the referee pointed to the spot, much to the outrage of Donovan Ricketts and the rest of the Galaxy defense, because the ball was nowhere near the site of the foul. David Foley, an Englishman who just turned 23, converted the penalty in the 33rd minute to put Puerto Rico up 1-0 (5-1 aggregate).

Marco Velez was involved in the game's next goal, but again, not in a good way for the Puerto Rican. Islanders defender David Horst cleared a shot off his goal line, directly into his teammate Velez, and the ball bounced right back into the net to tie the game in the 37th minute. Puerto Rico were still comfortably up 5-2 aggregate at halftime. In the second half, Bill Gaudette got a workout saving all the shots the Galaxy sent his way, including two point-blank saves on Landon Donovan, until finally, in the 84th minute, Sean Franklin got the game's only legitimate goal from play. Galaxy right back Franklin was the first to pounce on a loose ball in the Islanders penalty area. Interestingly, it was the 500th goal in CONCACAF Champions League play.

The Puerto Rico Islanders join Toluca of Mexico, Olimpia of Honduras, and the winner of tomorrow's match between CD FAS of El Salvador and Xelaju of Guatemala, who tied their first leg 1-1 in Santa Ana, El Salvador, to form Group D.

I got a chance to talk to our good friend, Old Coach, after the game, and we agree that there is nothing wrong with Edson Buddle, rather, he was never that great to begin with. He was just on an amazing, and uncharacteristic for him, hot streak at the start of the MLS season. After all, he is 29 years old, and players with that much experience don't suddenly come out of nowhere and be great forever, but they might ride a hot streak for a little while. So, he was named to the World Cup squad and really impressed in the warm up friendlies, especially against Australia when he scored both of his only international goals. But, Bob Bradley must have seen something in practice that we didn't see, because Buddle didn't get any playing time in the games that counted, and now, it seems that his hot streak is over.

Trivia Time: Edson Buddle was born in New Rochelle, New York, but his father Winston Buddle was a professional soccer player from Jamaica, hence naming his son Edson. Winston Buddle briefly played for the New Jersey Americans that existed from 1976-79 in something called the American Soccer League, which also featured a team called the Pennsylvania Stoners from 1979-83. Now there is a throwback jersey I'd like to see.

The next game was between San Juan Jabloteh of Trinidad and Santos Laguna of Mexico. Santos Laguna won the first game 1-0 in San Juan, Trinidad, and were hosting the second leg. Not very interesting. Rodolfo Reyes scored for Santos Laguna in the 3rd minute. SJ Jabloteh goalkeeper Cleon John managed to preserve the 1-0 scoreline until halftime by saving a penalty kick from Oribe Peralta in the 32nd minute, but it all fell apart in the second half for the Trinidad team. Santos Laguna scored five goals in the second half, one of which was called back for offsides, resulting in a 5-0 win and a 6-0 aggregate win. Santos Laguna joins the Columbus Crew, Municipal of Guatemala, and the winner of tomorrow's match between Brujas of Costa Rica and Joe Public of Trinidad and Tobago, who tied each other 2-2 in their first match in Heredia, Costa Rica when Joe Public scored the tying goal in the 92nd minute, to form Group B.

This is the third straight year that all four Mexican teams qualified for the group stage, while only three teams from the United States made it: RSL, Seattle, and Columbus. Hey, at least there are four MLS teams, counting Toronto FC.

Best of all, earlier today on Telefutura the New England Revolution tied Puebla 1-1, although I was not able to see it. Kenny Mansally of Gambia opened the scoring for New England in the 56th minute, but Andres Olivera equalized almost immediately for Puebla in the 58th minute. So, the game would go to a shootout, which suits the Revolution and their amazingly talented goalkeeper Matt Reis. I had a feeling Matt Reis would win the game for them, and he did. Literally. Matt Reis took New England's second penalty kick of the shootout and scored, as did all five New England kickers. Puebla scored their first three penalties but Matt Reis saved Edgar Lugo's shot in the fourth round, and Kenny Mansally scored the fifth for New England.

New England will face tomorrow's Houston Dynamo/Morelia Monarcas winner in the final.

1 comment:

  1. Found YouTube highlights of the Puebla/New England Revolution game, including Matt Reis' successful penalty kick. I love seeing 'keepers score!



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