Monterrey vs. Santos Laguna: CCL Final Preview
A North American title is at stake Wednesday night as US international Herculez Gomez and his Santos Laguna side travel to Monterrey in a clash for the CONCACAF Champions League crown (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
In addition to the CCL title, the winner of the two-legged series will become the first team to book a place in the Club World Cup, to be held in Morocco in December. The champions of each continent, plus the champion of the host nation's league, make up the field of the annual tournament.
Gomez and Santos Laguna have never won the CCL, though Gomez did travel to the Club World Cup with Pachuca after joining the 2009-10 champions following their victory. Monterrey, on the other hand, have been dominant in the tournament and will be seeking a third consecutive title, having beaten the same Santos Laguna team to win the 2011-12 edition, and Real Salt Lake to win it the year before.
The first leg of the series took place last Wednesday in Santos' Estadio Corona and ended 0-0, leaving Los Guerreros with an uphill climb in the second leg. Santos will need either a win or, thanks to the away goals rule, a scoring draw to claim the title. If the second leg ends 0-0 after 90 minutes, there will be two 15-minute halves of extra time (where the away goals rule will not count), followed by a penalty shootout if the two teams are still unable to be separated.
With Santos needing to get on the score sheet Wednesday night, Herculez Gomez is likely to retake his place in the starting lineup alongside fellow forwards Darwin Quintero and Mexico international Oribe Peralta, the latter of whom missed the first leg through injury.
Gomez is gunning to become the second American player to win the CCL title in its current format (since 2008) after José Francisco Torres did it with Pachuca in 2009-10. Torres was also part of the Pachuca's CONCACAF Champions Cup winning sides in 2007 and 2008, while MLS teams D.C. United and LA Galaxy also won the old tournament, in 1998 and 2000, respectively.