GUADALAJARA, Mexico – The group stage of the Copa MX is heating up, and teams with American players are in with a shot of qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Sonny Guadarrama scored the equalizing goal for Mérida on Tuesday in their 2-1 victory at Celaya under bizarre circumstances five minutes from time.
A Celaya defender took a quick free kick while his teammate, who he had passed to, was busy arguing with the referee. That left Guadarrama free to surge through on goal and beat the goalkeeper.
Guadarrama then assisted the winner three minutes later, heading a long ball straight into the path of onrushing Ever Alfaro, who finished with ease.
The victory moves the Venados into second place in Group 6 behind Club Tijuana, with only the first-placed team guaranteed passage to the quarterfinals.
Also Tuesday, the Xolos snatched a vital point with a last-minute goal to level the score at 2-2 against Pumas UNAM in the Estadio Olímpico.
There was no American involvement from the start for Club Tijuana, but left back Greg Garza came off the bench at halftime to help his team to the draw.
Tijuana guarantee their place in the quarterfinals with a win over Pumas in the Estadio Caliente on Sept. 19, while Mérida need to hope the Xolos slip up and that it can defeat Celeya at home in the last round of matches in the group stage.
In action Wednesday night, Ventura Alvarado could feature for Club América against Querétaro (10 pm ET) and Marco Vidal is likely to play for Lobos BUAP against Irapuato (8 pm ET).
Further south, Diego Restrepo is set for his first team debut at Deportico Táchira in the Copa Venezuela against Deportivo San Antonio (7:30 pm ET).
In Chile, Jimmy Maurer could also start for Universidad de Concepción away at Unión Temuco in that country's cup competition (7 pm ET).
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.