Jonathan Orozco

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

CONCACAF Champions League: Red Bulls, Houston beaten at home

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Some days the bounces just don’t go your way, even at home.

Major League Soccer sides New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo both failed to take advantage of home first legs, falling behind in CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal ties against Liga MX opposition.

[ MORE: England wins SheBelieves Cup ]

Sporting KC and Atlanta United give MLS its next hope of semifinal berths, beginning first legs on Wednesday.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 UANL Tigres

The offense didn’t materialize for the hosts, who got a pair of nice saves from Joe Willis but couldn’t keep the visitors off the board off 90 minutes.

Enner Valencia registered a goal and an assist, while Julian Quinones also scored and Luis Quinones had an assist to put Houston in a bad place headed back to Tigres.

New York Red Bulls 0-2 Santos Laguna

Despite a 14-10 edge in shots on a frigid evening in Harrison, N.J., Chris Armas’ Red Bulls could not collect any goals and gave themselves a heck of a hill to climb next week in Torreon.

Six saves from Jonathan Orozco make him the easy Man of the Match, as Santos Laguna scored three minutes before and after the break.

Beasley, Orozco among Puebla players protesting against missing paychecks

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Puebla FC has slipped to 15th in the Liga MX’s Clausura table, but the on-field problems are just the tip of the iceberg.

The players, including U.S. internationals DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco, aren’t getting paid. And we don’t mean “Eddie Johnson wants a raise” getting paid, we mean a distinct lack of paychecks.

So Beasley and Orozco were among many of the their teammates as they publicly protested their wage crisis. While Puebla’s president came out Monday to say the players were owed for the last 15 days worth of work, team captain Luis Noriega laid out much deeper burdens than just over a fortnight.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“We want to say that this squad is owed from a month and a half to three months (wages), corresponding to the months of November, January and February, as well as bonuses from last season,” said Noriega.

The report from Tom Marshall says two other MLS connections are on teams facing money problems. Chiapas FC (Gabriel Farfan) and Queretaro (Camilo Sanvezzo) are two more clubs in a bad state.

Surely, the Whitecaps are laughing at the latter bit of news.

Beasley signed a new deal at Puebla this summer, but what good is a contract if it isn’t getting fulfilled? Surely there are plenty of clubs that could use the veterans service across North America.

Panama in, Mexico out: Canaleros move into Gold Cup final

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For a moment in the first half, right after Panama made it clear a second Gold Cup win over Mexico was as much a probability as a possibility, El Tri seemed to wake up. They played with some of the skill and passion many expected a team with of their quality to carry throughout the tournament, even if most of their Gold Cup has been as meek as their World Cup Qualifying campaign. Yet by the time halftime rolled around, Panama again looked more likely to join the United States in Sunday’s final, an appearance the bore out over the match’s final 45 minutes.

With goals from Blas Pérez and Roman Torres on each side of half time, Panama secured their second ever competitive win over Mexico, replicating their group stage triumph to clinch a place in Sunday’s Gold Cup final. The Canaleros‘ second finals appearance comes eight years after their first, with the team set to meet a United States side that defeated them on penalty kicks eight years ago.

Pérez opened the scoring early. Teammate Alberto Quintero took the ball from Mexico midfielder Alejandro Castro at the edge of El Tri’s defensive third, exchanged passes with Pérez, then played the FC Dallas striker in to the right of goal. Pérez’s high, near post finish past Jonathan Orozco gave the Panamanians a 13th minute lead.

The advantage proved short-lived, as Mexico took the possession advantage they’d held through the opening whistle and started converting it into pressure. Eventually Marco Fabián, one of El Tri’s few bright spots this tournament, created a change for Luis Montes, chippping from the left of the area to set up Montes’s equalizing header in the 26th minute.

That score held for the next 35 minutes until Panama won a corner along their left just past hour mark. Restarting play, Gabriel Torres swung a ball in to the edge of the six-yard box, in the middle of goal, where Roman Torres had beat Joel Huiqui. Running onto an easy finish, the Panamanian defender put his team into their second Gold Cup final.

As with every Mexico disappointment, the loss is sure to increase pressure on head coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre, even though Mexico brought a diminished squad into the tournament. El Tri’s first two losses to Panama are unlikely to be taken in stride, though. At a minimum, the heat gets turned up yet another notch on the embattled coach.

As for Panama, Julio Dely Valdés’s team has a chance to make history. Only Mexico, the U.S. and Canada have ever claimed a Gold Cup, and while they’re sure to be seen as underdogs ahead of Sunday’s game in Chicago, Panama’s undefeated in the competition, scoring 11 times while conceding only three goals.

If they beat the U.S. it will be an upset, but from a team whose play transcends their renown, a victory for Panama would hardly be a shock.

Gold Cup: Two Torres goals give Panama first win over Mexico

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The first day of Gold Cup action finished the job it started with Martinique’s upset of Canada, flipping Group A on its head late Sunday night when Panama recorded their ever victory over Mexico. Two goals from Gabriel Torres sandwiching a late first half equalizer from Marco Fabian gave the Canaleros a 2-1 win, leaving them first place in Group A ahead of Martinique on goal difference after the tournament’s first day.

An early penalty kick drawn by Alberto Quintero was converted by Torres to give Panama a seventh minute opener, a lead that held up until just before halftime. In the second minute of first half stoppage time, Fabian converted a pass from Israel Jimenez, leveling for Mexico minutes after Panama had hit the post.

Three minutes into the second half, Torres cut off a cross from Quintero to beat Jonathan Orozco missed post, redirecting Panama to the 2-1 lead they’d take to the final whistle. In front of a partisan crowd of over 70,000 at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, Mexico had suffered a historic loss, their first in Gold Cup play since the 2007 final.

It was the first time Panama had ever beaten Mexico in 11 competitive matches, and while Mexico did not select a full strength squad after last month’s Confederations Cup, the loss is bound to increase the seemingly perpetual heat on El Tri head coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre. Favorites going into the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, Mexico has won once in The Hex’s first six rounds, following up their qualifying struggles by failing to get out of their Confederations Cup group. Without a noticeable uptick in goal scoring for a team that’s struggled to break down opposing defenses, de la Torre’s job will continue to be the subject of debate.

With the win, Panama is in position to claim first in Group A, the team due to be favorites in their final group matches against Martinique and Canada. Against the same teams, Mexico will also be favored and should still move through into the quarterfinals, with even a second place finish in their group set to keep them on the opposite side of the knockout round draw from the United States.

Monterrey through to Club World Cup semis, set to face Chelsea

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If the Rayados felt any need for redemption after losing their first match of the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup, Monterrey got it on Sunday, possibly transferring their need for revenge onto Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai. CONCACAF’s representatives dominated their Korean counterparts, outshooting Ulsan 10-1 with 58 percent possession en route to a 3-1 victory.

The win gives Monterrey a dream matchup in the tournament’s semifinals. The Liga MX side’s now set to take on Chelsea on Thursday in Yokohama.

As easily worked as the first goal was – Monterrey’s passing knifing back-and-forth through Ulsan’s defense to create and easy score for Jesus Corona – a second goal proved surprisingly difficult. The insurance tally wouldn’t come for another 70 minutes, but when it did, two relatively easy goals for Cesar Delgado put the match away. Only a gift from Monterrey keeper Jonathan Orozco left the final so much closer than the actual game.

MORE: Al Ahly’s amazing run continues into Club World Cup semis

It was a dominant performance for a Rayado side that struggled through the Mexican season. Monterrey, finalists in the 2012 Clausura, plodded to a seventh place finish in the Apertura before being eliminated by eventual champions Tijuana in the first round of the playoffs. Their defense was a problem all tournament, and with the downturn in goal production from Humberto Suazo (who never got off the bench today in Toyota), Monterrey never looked their confederation-winning selves.

Until today, there was little indication the Rayados were a stronger team than last year, but against a team that was so convincing against Al-Ahli in the final of Asia’s Champions League, Monterrey had no problems.

They move on the to semifinals while Ulsan’s relegated to the fifth-place game.

Here are the highlights:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO8KSAOBWPs]