CONCACAF Champions League Preview: Latest updates on Club Tijuana, Cruz Azul, and Toluca after Matchday 7 in Liga MX
With the CONCACAF Champions League coming up in just a few short weeks, MLSsoccer.com takes a look at the opponents the LA Galaxy, Sporting Kansas City, and the San Jose Earthquakes will be facing when the tournament resumes. (Click here for the complete quarterfinal schedule.)
Club Tijuana (3-2 loss at Santos Laguna)
Xolos had another rough time on the road in Liga MX when they headed to Torreón to face their striker and US international Herculez Gomez's former team, Santos Laguna, last Friday night. The loss means Tijuana are now winless in their last 18 Liga MX matches on the road. Their attacking has been the main problem for them on their travels this season but their defense let them down this time around. After Santos netted two early goals, Darwin Quintero and Oribe Peralta combined to put the game away with a third score in the 48th minute off a beautiful give and go.
What it means for the Galaxy:
With Tijuana unable to beat any quality opponent on the road, LA's first leg at home on March 12 needs to be a win. Xolos have one more opportunity to stop their losing form away from Estadio Caliente on March 1st against former Chivas USA manager José Luis "El Chelis" Sánchez Solá and his Veracruz outfit.
Cruz Azul (1-0 win vs. Puebla)
After a frustrating first 91 minutes, Marco Fabián (pictured) was able to earn Cruz Azul three points with a golazo just before the final whistle (video below). Puebla, featuring US internationals DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco Fiscal, had plenty of chances to capture a rare away victory at Estadio Azul but were unable to finish them. It wasn't an easy game to watch, but the three points keep Cruz Azul atop Liga MX for another week.
What it means for Sporting Kansas City:
Cruz Azul have now won six consecutive matches and are three points clear of second-place Toluca. They have conceded just two goals in seven Liga MX matches, which should make life difficult for a Sporting KC attacking corps that has struggled with consistency.
Toluca (3-0 win at Veracruz)
Toluca tore apart Veracruz in Chelis' debut as manager, piling up three goals and conceding none to a punchless side. Toluca have now won four of five games in Liga MX play, scoring at least two goals in each of their wins. They will face former SKC forward Omar Bravo and a re-energized Chivas side next Sunday at home.
What it means for the Earthquakes:
Toluca's strong attack is led by Isaac Brizuela and Pablo Velázquez, who are both in top form. Velázquez has scored in five of his last seven games while Brizuela has scored in his last two. Brizuela has been playing so well that he has even caught the eye of Mexico national team manager Miguel Herrera and played all 90 minutes as El Tri crushed South Korea, 4-0, last month. These two plus veteran playmaker Sinha and Paraguay international Edgar Benítez could easily present the strongest test San Jose's backline will face all season.