Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Mexico's CCL ownership intact
By Scott French
Toronto FC gave Santos Laguna a battle until halftime. Then things quickly turned sour, and Major League Soccer's last hope for CONCACAF Champions League success was dead.
Santos scored four second-half goals en route to a 6-2 triumph Wednesday night over Toronto in the second leg of a semifinal, posting a 7-3 aggregate victory to forge the third all-Mexico final in four tournaments since the region's club championship switched to its current “league” format in 2008.
The Guerreros in the final will meet defending champion Monterrey, which completed a 4-1 aggregate victory in the other semi with a 1-1 draw against Pumas UNAM in Mexico City. The first leg, on April 17, 18 or 19, is in Monterrey, and the second leg, a week later, will be played in Torreon.
Former Galaxy forward Herculez Gomez scored two first-half goals for Santos, each answering a Joao Plata strike that gave Toronto the advantage. A 2-2 tie would have sent the Reds to the final, but Juan Pablo Rodriguez converted penalty kicks in the 56th and 64th minutes, Oribe Peralta added an insurance goal in the 66th, and Daniel Ludueña added another in stoppage.
Angel Reyna scored in the 35th minute Wednesday for Monterrey, and Antonio Garcia pulled Pumas even in the 71st.
Toronto eliminated the Galaxy in the quarterfinals, claiming a 4-3 aggregate win with a 2-1 triumph March 11 at Home Depot Center. Santos the same night eliminated the Seattle Sounders with a 6-1 victory in Torreon. The Galaxy, Seattle, Real Salt Lake and Houston will represent MLS in the next tournament, which begins in late summer. Toronto competes in the four-team Canadian Championship for another berth.
Mexican clubs have won all three Champions League tournaments. Atlante beat Cruz Azul in the 2009 final, and Pachuca topped Cruz Azul a year later. Monterrey beat MLS club Real Salt Lake in last year's title series.
This will be the seventh successive CONCACAF club titles for Mexico. America claimed the Champions' Cup title in 2006 and Pachuca won the final two, in 2007 and 2008. The 2006 and 2007 finals were all-Mexican affairs.
Mexican clubs won 24 of 43 titles in the Champions' Cup, which debuted in 1962. Only two American teams triumphed: D.C. United in 1998 and the Galaxy in 2000.