SANDY, Utah – A solitary goal by Chilean international Humberto Suazo gave Monterrey a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final and a 3-2 overall aggregate-goal edge as they captured the continental title on Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Monterrey, the defending Mexican league champions, become the sixth consecutive Mexican club to claim the CONCACAF title, in the process ending RSL’s 37-match home unbeaten streak across all competitions which dated back to May 2009.
Suazo’s decisive goal came in first-half stoppage time on a give-and-go combination play with strike partner Sergio Santana. The two exchanged three passes to penetrate the left side of the box, with Suazo receiving the final pass, evading a defender and knocking it home inside the six-yard box.
RSL had enjoyed the ideal start to the match, not only winning most every loose ball, but creating a host of early chances, primarily through busy Argentine forward Fabian Espindola.
In the sixth minute Espindola had the time and freedom to turn and shoot in the box but he sent his shot right at the Monterrey goalkeeper. After a header that went wide right three minutes later, he snuck up on defender Hiram Mier and dispossessed him in the box but Espindola’s shot crossed the face of the goal, barely missing the far right post.
Monterrey did not threaten in the opening half-hour and their first real chance on goal came in the 32nd minute when Santana met a cross from the left flank with a volley near the penalty spot that finished wide left.
The visitors began to enjoy more possession in the closing minutes of the first half and that’s when Suazo began warming up. A dose of trickery from the Chilean was followed by an effort which finished just high in the 38th minute, a play that served as a warning shot ahead of his goal in first half stoppage time.
The play that broke the scoreless deadlock started with Santana finding his forward partner, Suazo, for a give-and-go at the top of the box. RSL players did not track Santana’s run into the left side of the box, and the Mexican veteran was able to feed Suazo again. The Chilean international evaded a tackle and deposited into the back of the net inside the six-yard box.
It was a furious and nervy start to the second half as RSL immediately tried to make up the deficit. Inside the first 15 minutes the home team missed the target on two long-distance blasts from defender Jamison Olave and midfielder Will Johnson which both finished high of the mark.
RSL forward Álvaro Saborío, who had been quiet for most of the match, showed up on a header off a corner kick in the 67th minute which was directed right at the ‘keeper. Just seconds later, a Monterrey counterattack saw Suazo with the ball in the box but Olave came out of nowhere to make a miraculous deflection.
With Monterrey brining on two defenders in the final 15 minutes of the match, Real Salt Lake had the Mexican side under siege with wave after wave of attacks.
Two last gasp attempts in second half stoppage time with shots by Javier Morales and Jamison Olave narrowly missed the mark as Real Salt Lake finished just short in in their bid to become the first MLS team to win the Champions League and earn a berth to the FIFA Club World Cup.
RSL will return to league action on Saturday, April 30 with their first ever visit to Portland, where they will meet the expansion Timbers (10:30 p.m. ET).
MTR: Suazo 46+'
RSL -- Fabian Espindola (caution; Reckless Tackle) 30'
MTR -- Sergio Perez (caution; Persistent Infringement) 42'
MTR -- Osvaldo Martinez (caution; Delaying a Restart) 74'
MTR -- Ricardo Osorio (caution; Delaying a Restart) 75'
MTR -- Humberto Suazo (caution; Delaying a Restart) 92+'
Real Salt Lake (4-4-2, left to right): #18 Nick Rimando -- #17 Chris Wingert, #6 Nat Borchers, #4 Jamison Olave, #3 Robbie Russell (46’ #2 Tony Beltran) -- #8 Will Johnson, #20 Ned Grabavoy, #11 Javier Morales (capt.), #77 Andy Williams (64’ #10 Arturo Alvarez) -- #7 Fabian Espindola (85’ #23 Paulo Araujo Jr.), #15 Alvaro Saborio
Subs Not Used: #24 Kyle Reynish, #12 Jean Alexandre, #28 Chris Schuler, #26 Collen Warner
Monterrey (4-4-2, left to right): #1 Jonathan Orozco -- #4 Ricardo Osorio, #15 Jose Basanta (capt.), #21 Hiram Mier, #24 Sergio Perez -- #18 Neri Cardozo (77’ #2 Severo Meza), #20 Walter Ayovi, #6 Hector Morales, #10 Osvaldo Martinez (74’ #5 Duilio Davino) -- #26 Humberto Suazo , #11 Sergio Santana (60’ #13 Abraham Carreño)
Subs Not Used: #23 Juan Ibarra, #16 Luis Rodriguez, #28 Jesus Arellano, #67 Oscar Garcia
Referee: Roberto Moreno (Panama)
Assistant Referees: Daniel Williamson (Panama), Jaime Smith (Panama)
Fourth Official: Jafeth Perea (Panama)