CONCACAF Champions League: Liga MX Walks Over MLS Clubs In Quarterfinals

The quarterfinal round of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) is over and the Liga MX clubs swept the Major League Soccer (MLS) teams.

MLS Clubs Get Chopped to Pieces

When the round began on February 23rd, there were a total of eight sides competing. Four of them from Mexico and four from the United States, each country faced each other in a two leg series.

The first series was Querétaro FC and D.C. United. Then Tigres U.A.N.L faced Real Salt Lake. The five time MLS Cup Champions LA Galaxy played Santos Laguna. The final series was the Seattle Sounders taking on Club América.

Both of the legs were a disaster for MLS clubs. The best result the four clubs were able to manage was draws. The Galaxy, Seattle, DCU and RSL tied their opponent once, all four of the draws ended up being big reason why they were eliminated from the CCL.

LA Galaxy 0-4 Santos

LA started their quarterfinal round at the StubHub Center on February 24th. The Galaxy had to win this match since the second leg was going to be at the home of Santos, the Estadio Corona. Over the years that stadium has been the painful end for MLS clubs in this tournament.

However, they failed to even register a narrow victory at the StubHub Center. Instead the game ended in a scoreless draw. The failure to earn a positive result at home came back to haunt the Galaxy in the second leg.

The Los Angeles Galaxy struggled to create chances against Santos Laguna in the two legs. LA was left scoreless in both matches, Photo provided by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.
The Los Angeles Galaxy struggled to create chances against Santos Laguna in the two legs. LA was left scoreless in both matches, Photo provided by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Santos continued their tradition of destroying MLS teams at their home on Tuesday, by beating down LA 4-0. Santos eliminated one of the richest clubs from America with Argentinean forward Martín Bravo leading the way with his brace performance in the second leg.

Seattle 3-5 América

Similar to LA, the Sounders were not able to take advantage of hosting the first game at CenturyLink Field on February 23rd against América. Twice in the match they had the lead, with U.S. international Clint Dempsey scoring both goals.

However, the Rave and Green’s defense was not sharp and allowed them to tie the game twice. In result, the Sounders were heading to the historical Estadio Azteca for the final game of the series.

Clint Dempsey brace performance in game one carried the Sounders to a 2-2 draw against América at CenturyLink Field. Photo provided by Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports.
Clint Dempsey brace performance in game one carried the Sounders to a 2-2 draw against América at CenturyLink Field. Photo provided by Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports.

Déjà vu happened for Seattle in the final match on Wednesday. An own goal from América gave the Sounders a 1-0 lead on the road at the 41st minute. However, a minute later, Darwin Quintero’s clinical header leveled the match 1-1.

After that the flood gates opened and the Mexican club took over. Mexican international Oribe Peralta headed in América’s second goal to give them the 2-1 lead in stoppage time of the first half. Five minutes into the second half Colombian midfielder Andrés Andrade sealed the 3-1 victory and secured their spot in the next round.

D.C. 1-3 Querétaro

United started the series in Mexico and with a 2-0 defeat to the newcomers of the CCL, Querétaro. The Black and Red had to win the second match by a score of 2-0 to push the match to overtime or penalties to decide who advanced to the semis. A victory by three goals in the final leg on Tuesday automatically placed United into the next round.

However, in less than four minutes at RFK Stadium, D.C. were already losing the match. Striker Ángel Sepúlveda punished the Black and Red’s weak defense and gave his club the crucial away goal.

Qerétaro's goalkeeper Tiago Volpi denied D.C. United 17 times in two matches in the CCL quarterfinal series. Photo provided by Adid Jimenez-AFP
Qerétaro's goalkeeper Tiago Volpi denied D.C. United 17 times in two matches in the CCL quarterfinal series. Photo provided by Adid Jimenez-AFP

D.C. created multiple opportunities but due to a combination of them missing their chances and Querétaro’s goalie Tiago Volpi making a combined 17 saves in both matches, it seemed almost impossible for United to get a goal. It took a long range bomb from rookie midfielder Julian Büscher in the 84th minute to end the match 1-1.

Real Salt Lake 1-3 Tigres

Just like United, the Royals lost their first match in Mexico by the exact score line of 2-0 on February 24th. Both MLS clubs conceded the two goals on the road in the second half. RSL was heading back to Rio Tinto Stadium to host the final game of the series on Wednesday night and they had to win the match by a couple of goals to just survive the first 90 minutes.   

If the Claret and Cobalt wanted to take no chances, then a three goal victory was required for them to advance. RSL had a dream start to the match when Joao Plata gave his club the 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute. However, the Royals began to waste chances and were not able to double their lead and tie the aggregate.

In fact, in both matches the Claret and Cobalt created 24 shots, 12 in each game. Where they faltered was their accuracy only nine of the 24 were on target. In the second leg when RSL need to score goals they only placed four on target.

Tigres striker André-Pierre Gignac scored the tying goal against Real Salt Lake to eliminate them from the CCL. Photo provided by AFP.
Tigres striker André-Pierre Gignac scored the tying goal against Real Salt Lake to eliminate them from the CCL. Photo provided by AFP.

Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán was there to stop three of them, including a penalty kick in the second half. French international forward André-Pierre Gignac sealed RSL fate in the 91st minute by tapping in the equalizer.

Putting the One Sided Rivalry into Prespective

With these results, the ugly history MLS has against Liga MX clubs continues. In the knockout round of the CCL alone, MLS clubs have a (W-L) 2-15 record with a negative 31 goal differential. The overall record against Mexican clubs is (W-D-L) 13-6-50 and a negative 79 goal differential, this is a combination of both the CCL and the previous tournament the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

The semifinals are now set and it will be a Mexican showdown. The matchups are: Santos versus América and Tigres facing Querétaro. The round begins on Tuesday March 15th and concludes on Tuesday April fifth.

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