American Exports: Herculez Gomez, Santos Laguna fall, no CONCACAF Champions League return
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Santos Laguna and American forward Herculez Gomez limped out of the Liga MX semifinals on Sunday, losing 2-1 to Cruz Azul and 5-1 on aggregate over the two legs.
With rumors flying that MLS franchises are interested in signing him, it remains to be seen if the loss was Gomez’s last game for the Guerreros, who brought him off the bench at halftime. Just one minute later, he latched onto an in-swinging corner that Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jesús Corona fumbled, but still managed to push away from danger.
The slim hopes Santos had of mounting an unlikely comeback dissipated when Darwin Quintero was sent off in the 51st minute for a handball, and Felipe Baloy followed him in the 58th. Gomez had a half-chance in the 75th, when he headed towards goal from a corner, but the effort rebounded off another Santos player.
The result means two-time finalists Santos Laguna will not be part of the 2013-14 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, nor will the team that ousted them in the past two editions, Monterrey, who were also eliminated from the Mexican playoffs this past weekend. Club Tijuana, Toluca, Club América and Cruz Azul will be the Liga MX’s representation in the competition.
In Mexico’s second division, Jesús Padilla helped La Piedad to promotion to the Liga MX on Saturday. Los Reboceros defeated Toros Neza 5-3 on penalties after tying the series 1-1 over the two legs, with Padilla entering the field in the 60th and coming off in the 6th minute of extra time.
In Brazil, Freddy Adu came off the bench in the 65th minute for Bahia, but his side could only tie 1-1 against Vitória on Sunday in the second leg of the Baiano championship final. The 23-year-old’s team had lost the first leg 7-3 at home, leading to protests from fans not happy with club president Marcelo Guimarães Filho.
Adu’s next game will be when Bahia begin their national Brasileirão championship campaign on May 26 against Criciúma.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.