After absorbing pressure throughout the match, Club America essentially clinched their spot in what will be the ninth all-Mexican CCL final in the 79th minute on Nicolas Benedetti’s deflected goal to cap a lethal counter-attack. Henry Martin tapped in a cosmetic second goal during second-half stoppage time.
The Liga MX giants will meet either Cruz Azul or Monterrey in the Oct. 28 title tilt, but they had to sweat out the result for much of the second leg.
Union coach Jim Curtin stressed the importance of his team scoring the first goal to put pressure on Club America, especially if it came early. The hosts came agonizingly close on a number of occasions, with their best chance coming from the penalty spot in the 50th minute after Kacper Przybylko was pulled down from behind by defender Bruno Valdez.
In a chippy first half that saw 24 combined fouls and five bookings, Philadelphia had three opportunities to break the deadlock in the final 10 minutes of the opening 45 minutes.
Burke took down a cross in the box, but what appeared to be an open chance from close range was snuffed away by a sliding tackle by Pedro Aquino for a Philadelphia corner.
Two minutes later, Jakob Glesnes latched onto a recycled service by Olivier Mbaizo, but flashed his header over the crossbar. And then just before halftime, a header by Przybylko, the tournament’s leading scorer, was parried away by Ochoa for another corner.
The Union dominated after halftime and had an edge in virtually every statistical category in their quest for goals.
But the goals didn’t materialize, Club America found two in the final stages and MLS’ search for a first CCL title extends to the competition’s 14th edition.
- THE BIG PICTURE: It’s more CCL heartbreak after MLS' last remaining team got eliminated by another Liga MX foe. The Union asked all the questions, but ultimately couldn’t overcome that 2-0 loss at Estadio Azteca in the first leg and were dealt a death blow on a late counter. Last year's Supporters' Shield winners had beaten Atlanta United and Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa en route to their semifinal appearance.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: What if? What if Monteiro buried this penalty kick? What if Valdez was sent off for DOGSO?
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Ochoa came up huge for Club America, especially in the aforementioned Moment of the Match, with a terrific diving stop on the PK and keeping his head to get the best of Burke’s rebound.
- PHI: Out of tournament
- AME: Thursday, Oct. 28 vs. Cruz Azul/Monterrey | TBD | Concacaf Champions League Final