CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Despite Herculez Gomez and Joe Corona scoring goals, it was a bad weekend of results for the Americans in Mexico.
Chivas 2-1 Santos Laguna
Herculez Gomez came in as a halftime substitute for Santos Laguna, making his first notable appearance in several weeks for the title contenders.
Santos entered the game with plans of easily defeating the beleaguered legends from Guadalajara, but things didn't quite work out the way they hoped, as Chivas took the lead in the 37th minute off of a header from Marco De la Mora. Omar Riveron swung the ball in from the right sideline, finding De la Mora standing relatively alone in the goal box to head the ball home past goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez.
Exactly 20 minutes later, De la Mora lined up a free kick from about six yards outside the penalty box and to the left of goal. His low shot was saved by Sanchez, but the normally trusty goalkeeper wasn't able to control the rebound, which fell right to the feet of Erick Torres who slammed it home to double the lead.
Gomez would put Santos on the board another 20 minutes later, in the 77th. Midfielder Marc Crossas played a hopeful long ball over the defense, finding Gomez to the left of goal, about eight yards out. Gomez got on the end of the ball perfectly and headed it across the goal over the head of Luis Michel. It was Gomez's first goal for Santos Laguna, but his chance to be the hero would come in injury time.
In the 90th minute, Chivas defender Jonny Magallon rammed into the back of Oribe Morales, bowling him over while a cross was on the way into the box. The referee immediately called for a penalty kick, as the Santos players celebrated their good fortune.
Gomez stepped up to take the penalty kick, and Michel began posturing, doing his best to distract the former U.S. National Team player. It appeared to work, as the shot that Gomez took was low, slow, and too close to the middle of the net, allowing Michel to easily make the save without giving up a rebound.
The game would end moments later, giving Chivas their first win of the season. The two goals that Chivas scored were equal to the number of goals they had scored in the first seven games of the season.
Santos will host San Luis on March 3, as they get another opportunity to beat a downtrodden team.
Tijuana 1-1 Toluca
Edgar Castillo went 90 minutes, while Joe Corona started, played 57 minutes and scored Tijuana's lone goal against Toluca.
Duvier Riascos had a couple of good opportunities to go ahead early for Tijuana, but he was a step offside in one instance, and hit the post with a majestically curving shot from outside of the box on his second chance.
In the 14th minute Riascos finally struck gold, this time taking the ball deep to the left side of goal, before hitting it across the goal, finding U.S. U-23 player Joe Corona streaking to the back post, easily knocking it in.
Unfortunately for Tijuana, the Bazooka from Toluca would strike back 10 minutes later, as Ivan Alonso cleverly beat the offside trap set up at the top of the box, allowing him to stand by himself at the penalty spot to take down a long chip from Martin Romagnoli with his chest. Turning smoothly, he hammered the half volley past goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo, tying the game.
The score would remain the same, as Tijuana missed another opportunity to gain ground on the leaders' pace. Tijuana will next visit lowly Estudiantes on March 2.
Pachuca 1-1 Tigres
Jose Torres went 90 minutes again for Pachuca, but it was not without pain. During the match, Torres injured his hamstring, ruling him out of Wednesday's national team game against Italy.
Pachuca took the lead in the 20th minute after Tigres defender Israel Nanez impeded Daniel Arguello progress in the box, and knocking him to the ground. The referee signaled for a penalty kick, and Leobardo Lopez stepped up to take it. Lopez approached the ball with a look of fierce determination, and stutter stepped to try to throw goalkeeper Enrique Reyes off balance. Lopez then powered the ball into the upper left of the goal, leaving no chance for Reyes to save it.
Pachuca would hold on for 72 more minutes until the end of the game, in the second minute of stoppage time, when Jorge Torres crossed the ball in from the left side of the field. The ball from Torres dropped over the heads of attackers and defenders alike in the center of the box, falling to the feet of Elias Hernandez at the right corner of the goal box. In an act of casual defense, Pachuca was slow to react and Hernandez's weak shot slipped by Rodolfo Cota at the near post.
If not for the last second goal, Pachuca could have moved past Tigres into a tie for second place. As is, they remain in 7th.
Pachuca will next visit Atlas on March 3.
Monterrey 2-1 Puebla
DaMarcus Beasley started and played 61 minutes for Puebla as they rediscovered their struggling ways that had been thought to be shaken off.
Humberto Suazo got things started off for Monterrey in the 4th minute, after Jesus De Nigris took a pass from Suazo in the middle the field, and took a couple of quick touches to the top of the box, before having the ball poked away by defender Roberto Gutierrez. The ball fell right back to Suazo who hit a weak shot low to the left side of the goal, somehow beating Alexandro Olivares. The ball appeared to be within stretching distance for Olivares, but he wasn't able to reach it.
Puebla forward Luis Garcia struck the post on a long shot in the 16th minute, but that's as close as Puebla would come until the 37th. Garcia would take a corner kick from the right side, that found Lucas Oliveira in the middle of the goal box to knock it home.
Monterrey would return the corner kick favor in the 51st minute when Cesar Delgado took a kick from the same corner. The ball found the head of Hiram Alanis at the near post, but his deflected header was swatted off the line by a reflex save from Olivares, however the ball then fell to De Nigris who had tumbled to the ground in a tangle. From his side, he volleyed the ball back into the net, putting Monterrey ahead to stay.
The result leaves Puebla with eight points in eight games, with eight goals scored. They will next host Chivas on March 4.
Michael Orozco was an unused substitute for the second week in a row as San Luis continued their downward spiral, taking their fifth loss in the past six games, going scoreless once again. They lost to Atlas 1-0.
Jonathan Bornstein continued his role as an unused substitute for Tigres in their 1-1 tie with Pachuca.
Greg Garza did not dress for Tijuana in their 1-1 tie with Toluca.
Marco Vidal did not dress for Club Leon as they beat Irapuato 2-1 in the second division.