American Exports: Gomez, Santos into Mexican semis
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Herculez Gomez is the only American representative likely to play in the semifinals of the Mexico's Clausura playoffs, after his Santos Laguna side beat Jaguares de Chiapas 2-1 on Sunday, advancing on 6-4 aggregate.
Gomez came on in the 68th minute for his first league game in the last two weeks after struggling recently with a groin strain picked up in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal second leg against Toronto FC.
The World Cup veteran almost caught Jaguares goalkeeper Edgar Hernández off guard with a shot from a tight angle just three minutes after coming on and generally looked fitter and sharper than he has in recent appearances when he was playing through the injury.
Santos are set to play Tigres UANL in the semifinal first leg on Wednesday or Thursday, with the return leg next weekend. Jonathan Bornstein's team beat Morelia 4-1 on Sunday to advance 5-1 on aggregate, although Bornstein didn't dress for Tirgres.
In the Estadio Tecnológico on Saturday evening, Club Tijuana, needing to win by two goals, battled bravely against Monterrey with Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona both starting the game. But the 2-2 result on the night wasn't enough, and the Xolos went out 4-3 on aggregate.
Castillo was heavily involved on the left flank, drawing a foul from Monterrey's Ángel Reyna in the 33rd minute that led to the latter being sent off with the score 1-0 to Tijuana.
The USMNT hopeful was himself yellow-carded in the 45th mnute, when he dived in on César Delgado near the corner flag, although there was a suggestion in replays that he got the ball.
Corona was efficient in tandem with Castillo on Tijuana's left side, but was brought off by head coach Antonio Mohamed in the 71st. The US Under-23 star also got cautioned for raising his arm when battling for the ball 10 minutes before halftime.
Also Saturday, at the Estadio Azteca, José Torres went the full 90 for Pachuca in their 1-0 victory over Club América. But los Tuzos bowed out out 3-2 on aggregate.
Torres was bright in the center of the park, spraying the ball around intelligently, as he has most this season in which he has firmly established himself as a starter for Pachuca. The 24-year-old Texan has now clocked up more playing minutes in the Clausura 2012 than in any previous league campaign in his career.
In the Liga de Ascenso final, Dallas native Marco Vidal came on for the last 13 minutes of Club León's 4-0 victory over Lobos BUAP for his first appearance of the season. His team will face Correcaminos on Wednesday in the first leg of the promotion playoff.
In Bolivia, Alejandro Meleán went 90 minutes in Oriente Petrolero's 1-0 win over Guabirá.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. E-mail him at email@example.com.