CONCACAF Champions League: Cruz Azul flexing their muscles ahead of Sporting KC clash
With the CONCACAF Champions League resuming in just a week, MLSsoccer.com takes a look at the opponents the LA Galaxy, Sporting Kansas City, and the San Jose Earthquakes will be facing in the quarterfinals. (Click here for the complete quarterfinal schedule.)
Club Tijuana (1-1 draw at Veracruz)
The Xolos visited the last-place team in Liga MX on Saturday night hoping to end their string of disappointing results. It didn't happen. Veracruz, coached by former Chivas USA boss José Luis "El Chelís" Sánchez Solá, came up with a late equalizer immediately after Tijuana’s goalscorer, Christian Pellerano, was sent off for a harsh tackle on Luis Martínez. Pellerano scored his goal early on but Tijuana were unable to hold on for the three points in what was a fairly choppy game. Americans Herculez Gomez and Greg Garza both started for Tijuana, with Gomez having a slight hand in Pellerano's goal before coming off in the 77th minute.
What it means for the Galaxy:
After a one game in a 3-5-2, César Farías went back to the 4-3-3 against Veracruz that the Xolos had been using all season. Frustration finally boiled over for Farías as he was sent off, along with Chelís, after a Tijuana goal was disallowed in the 88th minute. He will have one more game to right the ship before facing the Galaxy, in a Friday night clash that could have huge playoff implications against Chivas at Estadio Caliente.
Cruz Azul (1-0 win vs. Toluca)
The big matchup between the top two teams in Liga MX didn't quite live up to expectations. La Máquina were able to claw their way to a 1-0 victory at home in a game where both team’s attacks were slightly muted. The difference came in the 80th minute when Rogelio Chávez served a dead ball on to Christian Giménez’s head and “Chaco” (pictured at top) was able to finish with ease.
What it means for Sporting Kansas City:
Giménez, the newly naturalized Mexican, hasn't started a game for Cruz Azul in almost two months after suffering an injury against Santos Laguna. But the Mexico City powerhouse hasn't needed to rely upon him much since Mauro Formica, Marco Fabián, and Joao Rojas have been red hot. However, if one of the most decorated players in Liga MX history can round back into form it will present Sporting Kansas City with another difficult weapon to deal with.
Toluca (1-0 loss at Cruz Azul)
Los Diablos Rojos went into Estadio Azul hoping to continue their winning and shutout streaks. Neither happened as they suffered their second loss of the season. Although they held a slight edge a possession, Toluca were only able to muster three shots on target to Cruz Azul’s five. Pablo Velázquez, in particular, had some quality chances that he was unable to finish. He did have a great individual play that resulted in a shot that hit the post but he came up goal-less for his second consecutive game.
What it means for the Earthquakes:
This was by no means a heartbreaking loss for Toluca, but it does break up some of their momentum heading into their matchup against San Jose. They will head into their Friday night matchup against DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Orozco and Puebla as a heavy favorite to start another winning streak.