17 March, 2012

CCL Final Four Set

The big news from CONCACAF this week: Toronto FC defeated the LA Galaxy to become the first Canadian club to make the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. On March 7 in Toronto, the Canadian side looked like they were about to upset the Galaxy 2-1, until Landon Donovan scored in the 89th minute to give LA a road draw 2-2 in the first leg. On March 14, the clubs came to Carson, and were even 1-1 to make the aggregate score 3-3 and give LA the win on the away goals rule. But, in the 74th minute, 24 year old Dutch forward Nick Soolsma scored the game winner past Josh Saunders, and Toronto won the match 2-1 in Carson, and the aggregate score 4-3. Both Soolsma and Jamaican Ryan Johnson of Toronto had a goal and assist in Carson. Ryan Johnson also scored in the 2-2 draw in Toronto, making him Man of the Match.

Toronto's opponent in the semifinals will be Santos Laguna of Torreon, Mexico, who defeated the Seattle Sounders 6-1 in Torreon on March 14 after the Sounders won the first leg 2-1 in Seattle on March 7. Not everything was bad for the United States, as American forward Herculez Gomez scored two goals for Santos in the 6-1 victory. Herculez Gomez also scored the lone goal for Santos in the 2-1 loss in Seattle, making him the obvious choice for Man of the Match.

The other semifinal will match UNAM Pumas against Monterrey, both of Mexico. On March 15, Pumas defeated Metapan of El Salavador 8-0, with goals from seven different players including two substitutes, in Mexico City after surprisingly losing the first leg 2-1 in San Salvador on March 8, thanks to two goals by 23 year old Salvadoran midfielder Mark Lester Blanco.

Monterrey was matched up against Morelia of Mexico, which was the only thing preventing all four semifinalists from being Mexican squads. Monterrey were quite convincing, with a 3-1 road win in Morelia on March 6 thanks to a brace from Humberto Suazo, and a 4-1 win at home on March 13 with yet another pair of goals by the Chilean superstar. Four goals in a 7-2 aggregate victory make Humberto Suazo the tournament MVP so far.

The first leg of the semifinals will take place March 28. Santos Laguna travels to Toronto and UNAM Pumas will play in Monterrey in the nightcap. The second leg is scheduled for April 4, with Toronto FC in Torreon and Monterrey visiting Olimpico Universitario Stadium on the UNAM campus in Mexico City.

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