Mexican soccer fans are hoping for an all-Mexico final in the Concacaf Champions League as quarterfinals wind down.
Three Liga MX clubs are poised to march into the Concacaf Champions League (CCL) semifinals, needing only to protect the advantages established in dominating first-leg performances.
Santos and the Tigres have the chance to swat aside their MLS rivals on Tuesday night, setting up an all-Mexico CCL semifinal. Each has a 2-goal advantage from their respective first leg matches and each will be playing at home.
In Wednesday’s CCL quarterfinal, Monterrey must travel to Atlanta United while on Thursday Panama’s Independiente will be aiming to be a shock semifinalist by holding onto a slim advantage against Sporting KC.
New York Red Bulls at Santos
The Guerreros scored either side of halftime at Red Bull Arena to earn a solid 2-0 advantage heading into tonight’s second leg at home.
Diego Valdes (minute 42) and Javier Correa (47’) were the goal-scorers, but goalie Jonathan Orozco was the Man of the Match. Orozco made a save in the first minute when Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips got loose on a breakaway. The Santos goalie also made a magical save off a point-blank header in the first half and cleaned up each and every second-half opportunity New York created.
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Left back Jesús Angulo was also very influential for Santos. He was very steady in tandem with his back-line mates and the Guerreros defense (central defenders Doria and Hugo Nervo, especially) will want to be on their game instead of calling on Orozco to stand on his head again.
Santos looked sluggish on Friday at Veracruz, but it is possible they overlooked the Tiburones in anticipation of this match against the Red Bulls. New York, for its part, got its weekend game postponed by MLS officials as coach Chris Armas focuses on getting offensive production.
Santos has won 9 of its 16 games against MLS clubs, with 2 ties and 5 losses. Panama’s John Pitti will be the referee in charge.
Houston Dynamo at Tigres
It appears that the Tigres will have to protect their 2-0 lead without the services of leading scorer André-Pierre Gignac. The Frenchman picked up a leg injury 10 days ago in his team’s 3-0 win over Pachuca and has not been seen since. He did not travel to Houston for the first leg and was in the stands for Saturday’s Clásico Regio at Monterrey. Coach Ricardo Ferretti said Monday that Gignac will not suit up until he is 100% recovered.
The Tigres survived a rough-and-tumble match against the Dynamo in the first leg, picking up 3 yellow cards while committing 23 fouls. Rob Schneider’s favorite team got the win with two late goals after wasting at least 2 wonderful scoring opportunities.
Enner Valencia and Julián Quiñones executed a give-and-go in minute 78 and Valencia slotted home for the first goal. The pair worked in reverse for the second goal when Valencia lofted a lead pass to Quiñones in minute 81 and Julián dribbled past a defender before slamming a shot off the underside of the crossbar for the 2-0 lead.
The Tigres scrapped their way to a 1-1 draw at Monterrey in the Clásico Regiomontano and find themselves in 2nd place in the standings with 23 points after 10 games. They should be comfortable playing at home despite the injury situation (winger Javier Aquino is also doubtful for Tuesday night).
The Dynamo are coming into Monterrey off a 2-1 comeback win over the Montreal Impact. Their key players – Mauro Manotas and Luis Quioto – will have to be more precise in attack than they were in the first leg if the visitors hope to pull off the upset.
Cuba’s Yadel Martínez will have the whistle for this game.