Monterrey is still the team to beat in Champions League
Much has been made about Monterrey’s recent lack of form in Liga MX play, but Los Rayados showed once again why they’re still CONCACAF’s premier club team. Jose Villareal, Mike Magee and Robbie Keane all impressed during a first half that saw the Galaxy show a willingness to take the game to their Liga MX opponents. Los Angeles enjoyed several quality spells of possession and looked more than capable of knocking off the defending CONCACAF champs, but Monterrey made use of some well-thought out substitutions and a fatigued Galaxy side to seize control of the game in the second half, and they never gave it back.
In particular, the insertion of César Delgado for Hiram Mier at the half completely changed the dynamic of the game. Mier, normally dominant in central defense, found himself a bit overwhelmed during the opening 45 minutes by Villareal and Keane. Exchanging him for additional support up front paid dividends, in particular after the Galaxy lost Juninho to injury in the 61st minute.
Humberto Suazo is a bad, bad man
It wasn’t exactly a surprise when Santos Laguna’s Herculez Gomez was the man who made the Seattle Sounders pay on Tuesday. It was even less of a surprise when Humberto Suazo became the thorn in LA’s side last night, putting himself in a position to score Monterrey’s tying goal with a deft touch into the lower left hand corner of goal. Last year’s golden boot winner threatened throughout the match – both A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez struggled to keep tabs on the Chilean – and it was almost a foregone conclusion that Suazo would eventually find the net.
Oh, and there’s also Aldo de Nigris. When slotted alongside Suazo, the Mexican international forms half of a 1-2 punch unlike any other in CONCACAF.
And you thought the Sounders had it bad
LA has put itself in a situation that makes Seattle’s predicament look downright enviable. De Nigris’ 90th minute strike may well have been the nail in the coffin for the Galaxy, who now need a multi-goal victory in Nuevo León. Tuesday’s game, which is already sold out, will be a massive test for Bruce Arena and company, and everything will need to fall in place for Los Galácticos if they are to get a result. Only three teams in the history of Champions League have ever made up a two goal deficit in a home and away series, and no team has ever done it on the road. If they concede even a single goal in the return leg, their chances could go from microscopic to non-existent in the blink of an eye.