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Chivas’ Almeyda exhales after CCL win: ‘I finished last season with five ulcers’

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Matias Almeyda’s body didn’t need the intensity of penalty kicks, though he’ll gladly accept the outcome after Chivas Guadalajara clinched a Club World Cup berth by beating Toronto FC in the CONCACAF Champions League final.

“I finished last season with five ulcers,” Almeyda told ESPN’s Tom Marshall, noting his grandmother is ill as well.

Chivas reached a pair of finals before this tournament, and had a number of other obstacles including protests of the club’s owners and disappointment in player recruitment.

[ MORE: TFC’s “heart has been ripped from chest” ]

Still, the long-haired Argentine put together a winning CCL team. The former River Plate and Banfield manager spent most of his playing career in Spain, Italy, and Argentina, and is happy to pick up a big win in a new(ish) country.

“It’s beautiful. When I gave my first press conference I was unknown in Mexico and it wasn’t easy,” Almeyda said. “I spoke that day about what I wanted to achieve here and God has helped me achieve what I promised.”

The 44-year-old won Serie A as a player with Lazio, and has two Copa MX and a Liga MX title to go with his CCL crown. He’s a name to watch moving forward, and — as the kids say, don’t at me — a sneaky interesting name for the USMNT given his ability to marshal an undermanned unit.

Toronto loses CONCACAF Champions League in PKs

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Chivas Guadalajara scored on all of its penalty kicks to clinch a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League Final, breaking the hearts of Toronto FC in Mexico on Wednesday and earning a berth in the 2018 Club World Cup.

Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore scored in regulation as Toronto FC picked up a 2-1 win to reverse their first leg loss and push it to kicks.

Orbelin Pineda scored Chivas’ goal.

Hometown kid Jonathan Osorio hit the cross bar on Toronto’s second PK and Michael Bradley sent the fifth offering into outer space.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

Toronto flew out of the gates, and Rodolfo Cota came flying off his line to deny Altidore a 10th minute chance.

Alex Bono collected a header off a Chivas corner kick earned by a counterattack.

Pineda then made Toronto’s task even harder with a 19th minute goal, cooking Auro’s mark to reach a through ball and dancing around Bono for 1-0.

But Altidore was somehow unmarked for Nic Hasler’s pass despite five Chivas defenders and Cota inside the six-yard box, and TFC leveled the second leg at 1.

And TFC got the next goal through Giovinco, slipped through by Marky Delgado and taking advantage of a yard of space and a second to shoot with his fourth goal of the CCL knockout rounds.

The Reds kept coming in the second half, with Delgado winning a big 50-50 ball deep in Chivas territory and Victor Vasquez ripping a shot that Cota dove to smother.

Chivas found its footing in 58th minute, sending a shot over the bar before Jesus Godinez hit the post in the 61st (though his dive seemingly had the near post covered). Bono the next knocked a free kick over the bar from a similar position as the ball that beat him in the first leg.

Javier Lopez curled a vicious attempt just over the goal in the 72nd. He’d have the next best chances moments after Altidore subbed off with an apparent hamstring injury, but dribbled onto Bono’s lap and fired off the keeper.

Giovinco worked a 1-2 with Osorio and cruised a shot just wide of the far post in the 87th minute. Delgado then mailed a sitter over the bar in the first minute of stoppage time.

Odd free kick puts Toronto behind 8-ball

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Alan Pulido’s 72nd minute free kick goal has Toronto FC behind the 8-ball after conceding a pair of away goals to Chivas Guadalajara as part of a 2-1 loss in the CONCACAF Champions League Final first leg at BMO Field.

Rodolfo Pizarro put Chivas up in the second minute, with Jonathan Osorio equalizing before halftime for TFC.

Chivas hosts the second leg at 9:45 p.m. ET on April 25. Toronto will need a two-goal win, a 2-1 win, or a one-goal win with more than three goals scored at Estadio Chivas.

[ PL PREVIEW: Bournemouth-Man Utd ]

Chivas scored in the second minute, Pizarro taking advantage of poor defending from TFC and worse marking from Auro to convert an Isaac Brizuela pass into an early goal.

Toronto leveled the score through its veteran home town hero, the 25-year-old sliding onto the back post cross of Marky Delgado after Sebastian Giovinco dribbled to find Jozy Altidore.

Chivas almost saw a vintage Giovinco free kick goal, but Miguel Jiménez flew to make a two-handed parry of the Italian’s swooping effort.

Delgado got a pretty pass from Giovinco but was pressured into sailing a shot over the bar as the second half began at BMO.

TFC backstop Alex Bono made a massive save when Orbelin Pineda left Michael Bradley for dead and lashed a shot toward the far post.

Giovinco had another free kick from a promising distance that seemed too far, and had it bounce in front of Jimenez leading to a corner kick.

Drew Moor won another corner with a side-footed effort while holding off a defender, as TFC pushed for a goal that could make all the difference in the tie.

Chivas seemingly needed something special to beat Bono a second time, and it kinda got it when the Syracuse product made a mistake on a whirling Pulido free kick from almost corner kick distance.

Giovinco was somehow denied a penalty kick when he was dragged down in the box with just under 15 minutes to play, and the diminutive superstar saw a dragged shot slapped wide of the goal by Jimenez.

Red Bulls lament “almost impossible” failure to advance past Chivas

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One, two, three, four… all the way up to 20 shot attempts to Chivas Guadalajara’s one.

New York Red Bulls, as it turns out, were agonizingly close to qualifying for an All-MLS CONCACAF Champions League Final.

[ MORE: Toronto advances from Azteca ]

Yet manager Jesse Marsch saw his side not manage a goal over two legs despite 20 shots in Wednesday’s scoreless second leg, allowing Chivas a 1-0 aggregate win and two dates with Toronto FC for a berth in the Club World Cup.

“It’s almost impossible, right, the way the game plays out,” Marsch said after the game, courtesy RBNY. “It’s almost impossible that you can somehow not find a way to score a goal and find a way to be so dangerous around the goal all night long but not make that final play.”

“I told the team after the game that I was very proud of them, very proud of them. I thought they established themselves in the series as the better team, a very good team. And that this group has a really bright future. I told them I would go down swinging with them, any day, any day. It’s a bitter pill to swallow right now. We had our hopes very high that we can push it over the hump and really, you know, make a run at this all the way to the end.”

It was difficult to watch because the match had the feel of an inevitable Red Bulls goal and the first MLS vs. MLS CCL Final yet didn’t deliver for Marsch and Co.

Sometimes a club doesn’t get its just desserts.

Toronto FC to meet Chivas in CCL Final

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Jonathan Osorio’s early goal gave Toronto FC insurance, and Alex Bono made sure it wasn’t needed as the Reds drew Club America 1-1 at Azteca Stadium to beat the Liga MX powers 4-2 over two legs, to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League Final.

The MLS champions and manager Greg Vanney will face Chivas Guadalajara home and away between April 17-19 and April 24-26.

The first leg will be at BMO Field in Canada, and the winner will advance to the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates this December 12-22.

[ MORE: Dominant RBNY falls to Chivas ]

Osorio, 26, has been with TFC since 2013, and this was his 176th appearance for the club. Club America scored via stoppage time penalty kick, with Andres Uribe converting the chance.

TFC is just the third MLS team to make a final in the CCL era, and the first since Montreal in 2015.

America has seven CCL titles, the most of any team.

This was a bad sign, an injury to Jozy Altidore:

This was a much better one: Osorio netting an away goal that demanded Club America find three goals or more over the final 78 minutes.

Club America looked like a TFC own goal would put it on the board, but offside was given against the Liga MX powers.

Bono was very, very good.