American Exports preview: Gomez 90 minutes from glory

Herculez Gomez at Santos training

Photo Credit: 
MexSport

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Herculez Gomez’s Santos Laguna are 90 minutes away from glory going into Sunday’s conclusive second leg of Mexico’s Clausura 2012 final.

The first leg finished 1-1 on Thursday, with Los Guerreros coming within two minutes of winning in Monterrey’s Estadio Tecnológico for the first time in 10 years. But Humberto Suazo won and converted a last-minute penalty to tie the game, narrowing Santos' slim edge.

Still, Gomez's crew head home for the second leg with an invaluable away goal. The US national team hopeful was left on the bench for the first leg, with Santos defending a one-goal lead from the 70th minute onwards and using their last two substitutions to shore up the defense and midfield, rather than looking for the 30-year-old’s offensive impetus.

On Sunday, Gomez will be hoping to feature as Santos look to lift the trophy in front of their home crowd at the Estadio Corona (9 pm ET, TeleFutura) and erase the memory of losing three of the last four finals in Mexico’s Primera División.

If Gomez wins the title, he would become the first player ever to win both the MLS Cup and Mexico’s first-division trophy.

In Mexico’s Under-17 championship final second leg, San Jose, Calif., native David Silva is set to start in net for Guadalajara as they attempt to defend a 4-2 lead over Atlas from the first leg. Fellow American and Phoenix native Erik Venegas came on with three minutes left for Chivas in the first leg and may also feature in Saturday’s clash at the Estadio Jalisco.

Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. Contact him at tom.marshall.mex@gmail.com.