Well last night started out the second leg of the Preliminary Round of the CONCACAF Champions League, becoming one of triumph and defeat. I was only able to catch two of the matches, since the 3rd was played at the same time as the second with no repeat airings, so here is what I saw and I will insert the score of the 3rd match at the end for those following the results with me.
Puerto Rico Islanders 0 – 0 Toronto FC
**PRI advance on 1-0 aggregate scoring
Now I could go on telling you how the USL is an American league as well and that PR is part of the U.S. or even that TFC is Canadian, but I won’t. TFC played poorly is what it all boils down to. In both matches TFC had opportunities that they squandered and PRI made the most of one chance and played defense, not perfectly but enough to get through. Toronto failed to produce a single goal in this two legged tie and should feel bad about it given the chances they failed to capitalize on. In the second leg TFC pushed for the entire 90 minutes, though looking dangerous at many points, never managed to put it together in the final third to score. This is the third match I have seen Ali Gerba play for TFC and the most dangerous thing I have seen from him was a deflection against New England in league play that led to a Dwayne De Rosario goal. The finishing was poor, the passing in the final third was poor, and the overall play by TFC was lacking. While TFC was happy to make their first appearance in CCL play, they were disappointing to watch and deserved the early exit they have now received.
Luis Angel Firpo 1 – 1 DC United
**DC United advance through PK win after extra time.
I could say Firpo was surprising, but it was more along the lines of DC played poorly again in the CCL. They will advance, but unless something changes in the group stages they will be disappointed in the CCL again this season. Firpo came into the match tied 1-1 on aggregate, but having scored the away goal they held the advantage. DC had no excuses on this night in El Salvador as they fielded a strong squad to start the match, minus rookie sensation Chris Pontius and the new guy Danny Szetela. Both men would see action on the night though. Firpo would earn a PK in the 39th when a ball would strike a DC’s Marc Burch on his outstretched hand from a free kick, and on the ensuing pk Leandro would put Firpo up 1-0, increasing Firpo’s advantage. DC had held much of the match up to this point and would change nothing as three minutes later in the 42nd Christian Gomez would equalize for the MLS side. The rest of the match was played with DC in control for most of the time and Firpo not looking exactly dangerous on the counter, but nothing would come of DC’s pressure and the match would see extra time. Extra time would pass with neither side finding the breakthrough, though DC’s Da Silva would earn a red card in the 118th minute of play, leaving DC to finish out the last few minutes with 10 in order to take it to penalties. This was not a storybook ending for DC, but they took the PK Shootout 5-4 and will now advance for the first time in a few years, also becoming on of the few MLS sides who have managed to qualify while playing in Central America. The result was good for DC, but unless their play picks up before the group stages, it looks as though they could find themselves right back at home before the knockout stages begin.
Deportivo Jalapa 1 – 7 Pachuca
**Pachuca advance 10-1 on aggregate
In a match that looked promising to be exciting, the final score line does not disappoint. Jalapa scored on a penalty and Pachuca, who there was in no danger going into this match, missed one penalty. There was one hat trick in the match and 5 different goal scorers for Pachuca. They side looks strong going into group play and will not disappoint those who enjoy watching good football be played.