Los Angeles Soccer: Albinegros de Orizaba

MEXICO: It's Monterrey vs. Santos

November, 28, 2010
11/28/10
11:44
PM PT
Monterrey will play for a second successive Apertura title. Santos Laguna will get another shot at the trophy it just missed out on last spring.

The expected sides emerged from the Mexican Primera Division semifinals Sunday, and the two-leg title series will begin in Torreon on Thursday night. The second leg will be played next Sunday in Monterrey.



Santos and America played a 3-3 thriller in Torreon -- third-seeded Santos won on aggregate, 5-4 -- and Monterrey got a pair of late goals to beat visiting Pumas UNAM, 2-0, after a scoreless draw in Thursday's first leg.

America rallied three times in the second half on goals by Vicente Sanchez, Matias Vuoso and Enrique Esqueda, but it wasn't nearly enough -- the Aguilas needed to win by two goals to reach the final. Carlos Darwin Quintero made the task much more difficult, firing Santos ahead in the second minute. he scored a second in the 61st, and Christian Benitez netted his 16th of the campaign in the 75th.

Second-seeded Monterrey, which beat Santos, 2-1, Oct. 23 in Torreon, would have advanced with another 0-0 draw against Pumas. But Humberto Suazo took advantage of a defensive miscue in the 88th minute, and Neri Cardozo doubled the advantage two minutes into stoppage.

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MEXICO: Late strike, non-calls doom America

November, 25, 2010
11/25/10
10:48
PM PT

Club America's title hopes might have disappeared on a piece of magic by Christian Benitez -- and black magic from referee Jaime Herrera.


The fourth-seeded Aguilas failed to get two penalty calls, then gave up a goal at the finish, absorbing a 2-1 defeat Thursday to visiting Santos Laguna in a semifinal first leg in Mexico's Primera Division playoffs.

Second-seeded Monterrey's defensive stance was rewarded with a 0-0 draw at Pumas UNAM in the other Mexico City encounter, and the Rayados will need no more than a tie in Sunday's home leg to advance to the championship series. Higher seeds move on if the aggregate score is even.

America will need a two-goal victory in Torreon after Benitez broke a tie in the 89th minute, beating three defenders and then firing home a cross-box shot, his league-best 15th goal of the campaign. Carlos Quintero gave No. 3 seed Santos a 10th-minute lead, and Angel Reyna pulled the Aguilas even in the 19th.

"The result serves us," Benitez told Televisa, the giant TV network that owns America. "Now we play at home. We have an advantage, and we must seize it."

That advantage was built largely on Herrera's inadequacies. He allowed play to continue after Felipe Baloy took down America forward Matias Vuoso in the Santos box, then allowed Fernando Arce to get away with hitting Vicente Sanchez in the face, also in the box.

Monterrey kept nine men (plus goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco) behind the ball for most of its match against No. 8 seed Pumas, which stunned top-seeded Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals. Neri Cardozo nearly gave the Rayados a lead in the 21st minute, but his shot struck the left post.

LIGA DE ASCENSO: Club Tijuana and Irapuato moved closer to the title showdown in Mexico's second-tier division.

The Xoloitzcuintles notched their 11th shutout in 18 games in a scoreless draw at Albinegros de Orizaba, hardly a surprising result. Tijuana has surrendered just seven goals during the Apertura, and Albinegros has posted five successive clean sheets, extending its shutout streak to 535 minutes.

Tijuana, which needs only a draw in Sunday afternoon's second leg at Estadio Caliente, has a decided advantage at home. The Xolos are 7-0-2 in T.J., conceding just twice.

Irapuato dominated Veracruz in its home leg, using goals by Ariel Gonzalez in the sixth minute and Jose Luis Lopez in the 60th for a 2-0 victory. Cuauhtemoc Blanco nearly made it 3-0, but his 43rd-minute header from Arturo Alvarado's cross crashed off the crossbar.
  • PRIMERA DIVISION

SEMIFINALS, FIRST LEG
Thursday

America 1 (A. Reyna 19), Santos Laguna 2 (Quintero 10, C. Benitez 89)
Pumas UNAM 0, Monterrey 0

SEMIFINALS, SECOND LEG
Sunday

America at Santos Laguna, 4 p.m.
Pumas UNAM at Monterrey, 6 p.m.
  • LIGA DE ASCENSO

SEMIFINALS, FIRST LEG
Thursday

Albinegros de Orizaba 0, Club Tijuana 0
Irapuato 2 (A. Gonzalez 6, J. Lopez 60), Veracruz 0

SEMIFINALS, SECOND LEG
Sunday

Albinegros de Orizaba at Club Tijuana, 1 p.m.
Irapuato at Veracruz, 5 p.m.

MEXICO: Atlante tags Miguel Herrera to 'get out of this mess'

November, 24, 2010
11/24/10
6:49
AM PT

Miguel Herrera is returning home, more or less, to turn Atlante's fortunes around. The veteran coach, who played for the Potros and then guided them through five campaigns in 2002-04, was hired Tuesday by the Cancun-based club.


“I'm home, and I'm grateful,” Herrera said when presented to the media. “I know the institution well, and I have confidence to reach our goals.”

Atlante has reached the Mexican Primera Division playoffs just once since winning the 2007 Clausura championship and finished this fall's Apertura campaign in 16th of 18th clubs, with a 4-9-4 record. Herrera takes over for Argentine Eduardo Bacas, who in September stepped in for Rene Isidoro Garcia, who took over last summer for longtime coach Jose Guadalupe Cruz.

Atlante won the CONCACAF Champions League title in 2009 and finished fourth in last year's FIFA Club World Cup. But it has struggled domestically the past five years and sits fourth from the bottom in the relegation index, the six-season formula that determines which club drops to the second-tier Liga de Ascenso at the end of each Clausura tournament.

“Our priority,” club president Miguel Angel Couchonnal said, “is to get out of this mess.”

And so the Potros -- the Colts -- are bringing Herrera home.

The former defender, a fiery player and emotional coach, started and ended his playing career with the club, which relocated from Mexico City to Cancun in 2007. He spent four stints with Atlante, then guided it to a 38-28-31 record and three playoff appearances after he was hired as head coach in February 2002.

He left the club after the 2004 Clausura and guided Monterrey for all or part of seven tournaments, taking the Rayados to Primera Division title home-and-homes in the 2004 Apertura (losing to Pumas UNAM) and 2005 Apertura (losing to Toluca).

He was unable to save Veracruz from relegation two years ago, and was dismissed in August from Estudiantes Tecos. He had been in charge of the Guadalajara-based club since September 2008.

NEW DATES: The Mexican federation altered the originally reported dates and times for the semifinals in the Primera Division and Liga de Ascenso. All first legs will be Thursday and all second legs Sunday.

Here's the schedule (all times Pacific):

Primera Division
First leg (Thursday)
Santos Laguna at America, 5 p.m.
Monterrey at Pumas UNAM, 7 p.m.
Second leg (Sunday)
America at Santos Laguna, 4 p.m.
Pumas UNAM at Monterrey, 6 p.m.

Liga de Ascenso
First leg (Thursday)
Club Tijuana at Albinegros de Orizaba, 5 p.m.
Veracruz at Irapuato, 6:50 p.m.
Second leg (Sunday)
Albinegros de Orizaba at Club Tijuana, 1 p.m.
Irapuato at Veracruz, 5 p.m.

ETC.: Santos' Oribe Peralta is out for the rest of the playoffs after fracturing his foot at the end of Los Guerreros' quarterfinal triumph over Jaguares. … Uruguayan coach Gustavo Matos will succeed Argentine Angel David Comizzo as head coach of Queretaro's Gallos Blancos. … Tomas Boy will return as Morelia's coach; he said last month he did not plan to be back. The former Mexican national team midfielder has been in charge of the Monarcas since February 2009. … Former Toluca goalkeeper Hernan Cristante, 41, says he's looking into possibilities in Major League Soccer. … Salvador Cabañas' wife told a Paraguayan radio station that her husband, a star striker who hasn't played since he was shot in the head at a Mexico City nightspot 10 months ago, is owed $1.3 million in back wages and benefits by America and will sue if ongoing negotiations do not lead to a settlement.

MEXICO: Monterrey holds off Pachuca, is favorite

November, 22, 2010
11/22/10
9:44
AM PT

Monterrey assumed the role as favorite in Mexico's Primera Division playoffs after holding off visiting Pachuca on Sunday in a wild quarterfinal second leg.

Humberto Suazo, Aldo de Nigris and Neri Cardozo scored goals, and the second-seeded Rayados settled for a 3-3 draw -- leaving aggregate at 4-4. Monterrey advanced as the higher seed to a semifinal showdown with Pumas UNAM.

Santos Laguna also reached the final four, outlasting Jaguares, 1-0, for a 2-1 aggregate triumph. The No. 3 seed was set for a series with America before Juan Pablo Rodriguez's penalty kick deep into second-half stoppage.

Monterrey, which is the highest remaining seed after No. 1 Cruz Azul's defeat Saturday against Pumas, won the Apertura title last fall and posted the best record in the spring Clausura earlier this year. Pachuca pulled the first round upset in May, twice beating the Rayados to reach the semifinals.

The Tuzos appeared finished after Monterrey jumped to a 3-1 lead after 57 minutes, but Faustino Arizala, who scored their goal in Thursday's 1-1 draw in Pachuca, finished off a headed hat trick with goals in the 84th and 89th minutes. Monterrey held on for four minutes of stoppage to advance.

Former Galaxy star Herculez Gomez set up the third of Arizala's goals.

Gomez, who joined Pachuca over the summer after scoring 10 goals last spring for Puebla, has been targeted by UANL Tigres, Spanish-language Web site Medio Tiempo reported. Club vice president Andres Fassi said he would be in contact with the Monterrey-area club about the Los Angeles-born forward, who is slated to play for the Tuzos in next month's FIFA Club World Cup in Dubai. Jonathan Bornstein (Los Alamitos/Los Alamitos HS and UCLA) will join Tigres from Chivas USA in January.

LIGA DE ASCENSO: The last of the higher seeds in action during the second-tier Liga de Ascenso quarterfinals is out. Veracruz rode an early goal by Guillermo Rojas to oust fourth-seeded Lobos BUAP, a 1-0 road victory Sunday providing a 2-1 aggregate triumph.

Second-seeded Indios de Ciudad Juarez and third-seeded Alacranes de Durango were eliminated Saturday. Top seed Club Tijuana received a bye into the semifinals and will begin its playoff trek Wednesday at Albinegros de Orizaba. The home leg is tentative scheduled for Saturday at Estadio Caliente.
  • PRIMERA DIVISION

QUARTERFINALS, SECOND LEG
Sunday
Monterrey 3 (Suazo 19, de Nigris 37, Cardozo 57), Pachuca 3 (Arizala 26, 84, 89)
Santos Laguna 1 (J. Rodriguez pen. 95+), Jaguares de Chiapas 0

SEMIFINALS, FIRST LEG
Wednesday
Santos Laguna at America, 5 p.m.

Thursday
Monterrey at Pumas UNAM, 7 p.m.

SEMIFINALS, SECOND LEG
Saturday
America at Santos Laguna, 4 p.m.

Sunday
Pumas UNAM at Monterrey, 2 p.m.
  • LIGA DE ASCENSO

QUARTERFINALS, SECOND LEG
Sunday
Lobos BUAP 0, Veracruz 1 (G. Rojas 12)

SEMIFINALS, FIRST LEG
Wednesday
Club Tijuana at Albinegros de Orizaba, time TBA

Thursday
Veracruz at Irapuato, time TBA

SEMIFINALS, SECOND LEG
Saturday
Albinegros de Orizaba at Club Tijuana, time TBA

Sunday
Irapuato at Veracruz, time TBA

MEXICO: Pumas stuns top seed Cruz Azul

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
12:17
AM PT

Cruz Azul's legacy of failure grew deeper Saturday, an indifferent performance -- marred by injury, ejection and a late penalty kick -- leading to the top seed's ouster from Mexico's Primera Division playoffs.

Juan Carlos Cacho converted an 83rd minute penalty kick to complete Pumas UNAM's comeback from defeat in the first leg of the quarterfinals, providing a 2-0 victory for a 3-2 aggregate triumph in a battle of Mexico City giants.

Martin Bravo struck in the second minute for Pumas, which must await Sunday's results to learn its semifinal opponent.

America also advanced to the final four, a 4-1 rout over San Luis at Estadio Azteca to reach the semifinals for the first time since losing to Pachuca in the 2007 Clausura final.

Cruz Azul was seeking its first Mexican title since 1997. La Maquina has lost in the title series in three of the last six tournaments and fallen in the CONCACAF Champions League final the past two seasons.

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MEXICO: Cruz Azul's brilliance wins out

November, 17, 2010
11/17/10
10:43
PM PT
Two magical shots by Christian Gimenez has top seed Cruz Azul on target for the Mexican Primera Division semifinals following a 2-1 win over crosstown rival Pumas UNAM in its playoff opener.

America settled for a 0-0 draw at San Luis in Wednesday's other Apertura quarterfinal first leg. Two more series begin Thursday; second legs will be played this weekend.


Gimenez's long-range free kick was deflected by Horacio Cervantes past Pumas goalkeeper Sergio Bernal to pull La Maquina even in the 33rd minute, and his volley from outside the box provided a 73rd-minute lead. Pumas, which dominated play early and went ahead through Dante Lopez in the 19th minute, will need a two-goal victory in Saturday's rematch across Mexico City to move on; higher-seeded teams advance if aggregate is even.

Guillermo Ochoa made three big saves, two on Ignacio Ambriz, and survived a Tressor Moreno blast off the crossbar for America, which has the advantage heading into Saturday's second leg in Mexico City. The fourth-seeded Aguilas were content to sit back and defend as San Luis, which included America Edgar Castillo in its lineup, pressed the issue most of the match.

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MEXICO: Pumas ousts Tigres for final berth

November, 16, 2010
11/16/10
12:24
AM PT

Pachuca's in, Toluca and Guadalajara are out, and Pumas UNAM scored a big victory to claim the final berth in the Mexican Primera Division's playoffs.


Pachuca, with three Americans, struck early to beat Necaxa, 2-1, on Friday night, then waited 24 hours -- through five games -- to celebrate, clinching a top-eight spot when Atlas rallied to tie UANL Tigres on Saturday night.

It was a wild final regular-season weekend in the Apertura, featuring four late comebacks -- two of them playing decisive roles in the playoff race -- and Guadalajara's finest moment of the campaign, which was far too little for one of Mexico's two most popular clubs.

A quick rundown:

WHO'S IN: Jaguares (6-4-7), Pachuca (7-6-4) and Pumas (7-6-4) won the three available berths, all finishing one point ahead of Tigres (6-5-6), which saw its playoff hopes die on two penalty kicks.

Jaguares clinched with a 1-1 draw at Gallos Blancos, with Jorge Rodriguez's 81st minute equalizer providing the Chiapas club the required goal. Queretaro had gone ahead just two minutes earlier on a tremendous Sergio Oreteman drive to the upper-left corner.

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MEXICO: America makes its move; so does Toluca

November, 9, 2010
11/09/10
12:07
PM PT

America is peaking at the best possible time. Toluca is crumbling when it counts. The impact on the Mexican Primera Division's Apertura campaign is massive.


The Aguilas clinched a berth in the eight-team playoff Liguilla with a 1-0 victory at Atlante, courtesy of Matias Vuoso's eighth goal of the season, and head into their final regular-season outing -- against Mexico City rival Pumas UNAM -- with three-game winning and six-game unbeaten streaks.







They've pulled through last month's attacking drought, in which they were shut out by first-place Cruz Azul, second-place Monterrey and archrival Guadalajara, scoring seven times in their past three games -- and that should be eight.

Pavel Pardo converted a stoppage-time penalty kick against Atlante, but referee Paul Delgadillo ordered a retake for encroachment, and Potros goalkeeper Moises Muñoz saved Pardo's second attempt.

America, which is atop Group 2 and fourth overall, behind Santos Laguna on goal difference (plus-8 to plus-7), appears to have shored up its defensive problems, and the relationship among Vuoso, playmaker Daniel Montenegro and former Toluca star Vicente Sanchez has solidified just when it most matters.

“We're there, and we were able to get there,” America coach Manuel Lapuente said after Saturday night's victory, according to Reforma. “We're playing well … we've finished the league well, although we have a game against Pumas to play, and we cannot lose at home. We're going to put a lot of effort into that game. This isn't over until it's over, and we're going to fight to climb one spot higher.”

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