The CONCACAF Champions League semifinal first week came to a close and it was basically a repeat of the first day, with a win by a Mexican team by a score of 2-0 and two teams drawing in the United States.
Tigres (the defending champion of the Liga MX) hosted Real Salt Lake in San Nicolás de los Garza, in what is a very tough atmosphere to play in for any team— Mexican or otherwise. The game got off to a slow start, but it quickly picked up with RSL creating most of the chances and getting shots towards the Tigres net. The culmination of the first half came in the dying moments when the referee called a handball on Kyle Beckerman inside the 18-yard box. Tigres’ French talisman, André-Pierre Gignac, took the penalty, but Nick Rimando came out on top as he stopped Gignac’s weak shot. Still impressive from the goalkeeper to preserve the draw.
Nick Rimando saves André-Pierre Gignac’s penalty on the stroke of halftime. Scoreless between RSL and Tigres. #SCCLhttps://t.co/dwgUuvTj0P
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 25, 2016
The second half was a different story as the altitude and the lack of match fitness really took a toll on Real Salt Lake as they could not keep up with Tigres. In the 67th minute, Rafael Sóbis took a free kick and chipped a ball into the box where José Arturo Rivas was there to nod it home for the 1-0 Tigres lead. Later on in the game, the 86th minute to be exact, Tigres struck again off a corner kick. The cross found José Rivas on the right side and he took an awkward shot/pass that trickled over to Jürgen Damm, who got his own rebound after the initial shot and managed to slip it past the RSL defense. The game ended in a 2-0 Tigres win and Real Salt Lake now looks forward to the friendly confines of the RioT where they hope to turn the scoreline around. It will be a tough task against the defending Mexican champions.
In the late game, the Galaxy faced off against Santos Laguna. This game was full of action as well, but unfortunately for fans the score didn’t reflect the amount of action on the field and the game match ended up scoreless. There was no shortage of chances, especially for the Galaxy who were close from several strikes none closer than a strike by Jelle Van Damme. His attempt made the Santos goalkeeper Agustín Marchesín make an acrobatic dive to keep the score level at zeroes.
This series will have to be decided in Torreon, as the Galaxy will have to try and get a result in Mexico to advance to the next round. Out of all the games to be played in Mexico, the Galaxy have a better chance at winning this one than other MLS teams. Santos is by far the weakest link in the Liga MX teams that are still in this competition, so don’t be surprise if the Galaxy end up getting an upset in Coahuila.