MEXICO CITY: Holders Club America advanced to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) with a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders as Mexican sides clinched a clean sweep over their Major League Soccer rivals.
With DC United and Los Angeles Galaxy losing their quarterfinals on Tuesday, Seattle had arguably the best chance of progressing to the last four as they traveled to Mexico City after a 2-2 draw in the first leg.
For a brief moment towards the end of the first half at the iconic Azteca Stadium, the Sounders’ small band of traveling fans dared to dream of victory after a Pablo Aguilar own goal on 41 minutes put the visitors 1-0 up on the night, 3-2 ahead on aggregate.
But America struck back emphatically when striker Darwin Quintero glanced home a header from a Rubens Sambueza cross barely a minute later to level it at 1-1, 3-3 on aggregate.
Three minutes later and America took the lead, Oribe Peralta steering a fine header into the bottom left hand corner after another pinpoint cross from Sambueza to leave the reigning champions in control.
The home side began the second half in similar fashion and went 3-1 up in the 50th minute when Andres Andrade calmly placed a low shot beyond Switzerland-born goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
Seattle’s defeat continued a miserable run of results for MLS clubs in the competition following the exits of DC United and Los Angeles on Tuesday.
It got worse for the MLS contingent on Wednesday as Real Salt Lake, trailing 2-0 from their first leg against Tigres UANL, could only muster a 1-1 draw.
The result meant that all four semi-finalists of this year’s competition will hail from Mexico, whose teams have won the last 10 CONCACAF Champions League crowns.
The last American side to lift the trophy were the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2000.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena on Tuesday said the scheduling of the tournament needs to be reviewed to enable MLS teams to compete effectively.
American clubs are hampered by the fact that the quarterfinals start before the MLS season has kicked off, when teams are yet to fully hit their best form.
Asked if he believed the MLS should review the scheduling of the competition, Arena replied: “That’s something that they should be working to do because it’s been a complaint of ours for a number of years.” AFP
“In all fairness to CONCACAF, Liga MX is adhering to the international calendar. We’re the league that does not recognize the international calendar. Therefore we get punished for it,” added Arena, who saw his Galaxy side trounced 4-0 by Santos Laguna on Tuesday.