GUADALAJARA, Mexico – The CONCACAF Champions League final is finely balanced after the first leg, with Herculez Gomez’s Santos Laguna drawing 0-0 Wednesday with Monterrey to leave everything to play for in next week’s decider.
Gomez started the game on the bench, but was heavily involved when he entered the field in the 53rd, after Mexico national team striker Oribe Peralta was forced off with a knee injury.
The US international gained what should’ve been a major positive for Santos, when he drew a foul from César “Chelito” Delgado, which resulted in a red card in the 66th.
Gomez played on the left wing when he came on, but shifted into the center when Mauro Cejas entered the field in the 77th.
His best chance came when Darwin Quintero put him through on goal in the 86th minute, but two Monterrey defenders were able to recover and blocked the right-foot shot.
Before Gomez entered, Monterrey’s Humberto Suazo had come closest to scoring when his header in the 48th rebounded off the foot of the post, but the reality was that the game was a tight, tactical affair with few chances and both coaches trying to outwit the other. That only increased after the red card, when Monterrey increasingly sat back to keep the Guerreros at bay.
American Alonso Hernandez was named in Monterrey’s 18 for the match, but was an unused substitute after debuting in last Friday’s Liga MX game against the same opposition.
The second leg of the final – the winner of which goes to the FIFA Club World Cup in December – takes place next Wednesday in the Rayados’ Estadio Tecnológico.
In other games involving Americans Wednesday, Texan Marco Vidal went the full 90 minutes for Lobos BUAP in their 2-1 defeat at Toros Neza in the playoff quarterfinal in Mexico’s second division.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.