Fans of soccer across the US and Canada rejoiced this week as some Major League Soccer teams got their season underway early before the start of the league next weekend.
There were no less than FIVE teams from MLS in action in the CONCACAF Champions League this past week, and this is how they fared.
Marathón 2-2 Portland Timbers
How the Timbers weren’t 4-0 up in the first 20 minutes is a mystery, but Marathón used the extremely long grass to their advantage and were able to come back from behind twice.
It was an enjoyable, end to end game. The Honduran side will be massively up for the return leg and if they score first it will be interesting to see how the Timbers cope.
Alajuelense 0-1 Atlanta United
After the early onslaught by Gabriel Heinze’s men, it looked ominous for them when Brad Guzan came charging out of his goal after a ball over the top for Marcel Hernández and took out the Alajuelense forward. A red card was then given, but in the second half Atlanta were given a penalty for handball that Ezequiel Barco tucked away.
It was backs to the wall then for Atlanta with Reserve goalkeeper Ríos Novo impressing after being forced to make his debut to replace Guzan. This was hard fought from Atlanta and they will be hopeful of a more comfortable game in the return leg - especially with Josef Martínez making his long-awaited return to the field since his season-ending injury in February 2020.
Saprissa 0-1 Philadelphia Union
Kacper Przybylko showed the only real bit of quality in a game that was uneventful until the later stages in Costa Rica. Kai Wagner had an important goal line clearance in the second half to preserve the lead, but the real drama came at the end of the match.
In stoppage time, Ricardo Blanco sparked pandemonium when he steamed in late on Wagner. Despite the robustness of the challenge, Blanco was eventually shown a yellow card along with two players a piece from the Union and Saprissa. It is sure to be a fiery second leg back in Chester.
Club Léon 1-1 Toronto FC
Toronto FC were perhaps fortunate to escape from Mexico with a 1-1 draw. A truly outstanding effort from Fernando Navarro gave Léon the lead, before an Andrés Mosquera own goal restored parity.
Joel Campbell hit the post and Léon had enough chances to win comfortably but in the end profligate finishing sees the return leg set up nicely.
Real Esteli 0-4 Columbus Crew
It was a comfortable night in Nicaragua for the Crew, who scored four goals in the first half through a brace from Gyasi Zardes, one from Jonathan Mensah and a penalty kick from Pedro Santos to start their season with a bang.
Esteli gave it a go second half and could have had a couple themselves, but the Crew look the most likely of the MLS sides to go through to the last eight of the competition next week.