Friday, March 02, 2007

American night at the Champions' Cup

Just like our Mexican neighbors, America got to celebrate both of their teams advancing in the Champions' Cup. For the first time since 2000 and the first time since the format became a home-away series, both US based teams have made it out of their initial quarterfinal round.

DC had the easier task going into the night, but their backline tried to make it as difficult as possible. There seemed to be a great deal of confusion going on in front of goal for United. Lucky for them, they had some amazing offense up top to counter such problems. They walked out with a 3-2 win on the night and a 7-3 win on aggregate, allowing the over 8,000 fans to have a good ride home.

Houston, who just over a week earlier looked more like a high school team then defending MLS champions, showed what a difference a week can make. Gone was the absorb strategy and pathetic passing. Instead, the team seemed interesting in proving to the 4,300 fans in Aggie Land that they know how to play this game. There was a little weakness at start, but once Paul Dalglish got the aggregate tying goal, it felt like blood in the water. Houston just drove to the net again and again. Had it not been for some great efforts by Puntarenas FC goalkeeper Shane Orio, it could have been a washout.

Even though the match was going Houston's way, they could not find a second goal till Brian Ching came in off the bench in the 71st. For anyone who wonders how important Ching is to the Dynamo, the answer came in just four minutes. Ching was able to get a great head on a corner kick that forced Orio to make a diving save. However, Orio only pushed the ball enough to cause it to hit the goal post, which allowed Kelly Gray to take an easy rebound shot for the series winner. Ching again had a chance on goal off a rebound later in the match, however the ref called the play dead even though Orio reached out and tripped Ching in a final attempt to stop the goal.

A much better showing by the Dynamo, however, they still have trouble giving up free kicks in dangerous areas. Puntarenas almost made them pay late, but luck went a good way for Houston. They should not count on as much when they face Pachuca CF in the semifinals.

Both DC United and Houston Dynamo will host the first leg of the semifinals. Houston will welcome Pachuca CF to town (yes, the game will be played in Houston) on March 14 while CD Guadalajara will travel to the nation's capital on the 15th to play United.

Congratulations to both DC and Houston. Now lets hope they can do us proud and make it an all American final.

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Blogger Confused Football Fan said...

whats your view on beckham playing in the MSL. i think it is a few years to early, but good for you guys he is an amazing player.
PS nice blog

10:31 AM  
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