Oribe Peralta

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Seattle Sounders 2-2 Club America: Champs claw back twice in CONCACAF Champions League first leg

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Club America showed why its the reigning champion, twice coming back from deficits to draw Seattle Sounders 2-2 in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal.

Darwin Quintero and Oribe Peralta scored road goals for Las Águilas, who host the return leg March 2 at 8 p.m. ET.

Clint Dempsey scored both of Seattle’s goals, but defensive lapses allowed the champs to even things up in Washington.

[ WATCH: Dempsey’s free kick goal ]

Osvaldo Alonso tore a low shot wide of the post in the second minute, and Seattle was off and running.

The Sounders appeared to have taken the lead by a razor-thin goal line margin, but Jordan Morris’ header was missing just enough steam for Tiago Volpi to paw it off the line.

[ MORE: UEFA Champions League roundup ]

[ MORE: Queretaro knocks off DC United 2-0 in quarterfinal first leg ]

Rubens Sambueza picked up a deflected ball off Brad Evans and pushed an odd-angled shot off the crossbar.

Then, end of half chaos. First Clint Dempsey swept a 25-yard free kick past Volpi to make it 1-0, but America struck back within 60 seconds.

A long ball over the top exposed Brad Evans, and Colombia striker Quintero blew by the back line and caught Stefan Frei flat-footed to make it 1-1.

Morris won a corner, and Dempsey made it 2-1 off service from Andreas Ivanschitz. He rose back post to pound a header off the turf and past Volpi.

[ MORE: Ronaldo first athlete to 200 million social media followers ]

America made its case for another quick equalizer, but Frei parried a Quintero chance to keep it 2-1.

Evans and Frei were lost again on Seattle’s second goal, as Peralta darted free to redirect Quintero’s left-footed cross ever so slightly to make it 2-2.

Dempsey won a stoppage time free kick on the left edge of the 18, drawing a yellow card on Pablo Aguilar, but Ivanschitz’s left-footed offering was handled by Club America.

Fabian, Andres, Klinsmann and more: Top 3 things to watch as USMNT faces Mexico

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Is it Saturday yet? You know, the day in which the U.S. and Mexican U-23 sides can clinch Olympic berths.

Oh, and the two senior sides will determine which rival is going to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Yeah, it’s a big one. And we’ve got three big battles (and two bonus things to keep an eye on) as the Rose Bowl plays host to a critical CONCACAF Cup playoff.

  1. U.S. centerbacks vs. Mexico’s strikers: The fact that we don’t know who Jurgen Klinsmann will use as his pairing against Mexico tells you all you need to know about their plight. Ventura Alvarado has had more than growing pains while representing his country, but Klinsmann remains faithful to the Mexican-based back. Could a match-up with El Tri bring out the steady best in him? Matt Besler was a revelation at the 2014 World Cup but fell out of favor with Klinsmann. Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream are steady as it goes, but that seems too easy for the experimenting coach.

    Meanwhile, Mexico is without L.A. Galaxy star Giovani Dos Santos, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the horses to run by the Yanks. Oribe Peralta doesn’t have a great record against the States but seems to have that “clutch” gene for big games. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will be aching to make his presence felt, too. Their third is a victory the U.S. must win given its big battle in the middle.

  2. Monster midfielders: It’s very difficult to look past El Tri’s midfield unit, with a pair of Porto regulars steadied by PSV’s brilliant Andres Guardado (below), who has six goals in 7 caps this year. Guardado is given more offensive opportunity with Mexico than his club, and he responds well. There may be no better player on the pitch than Guardado excepting, well…

    Whether Guardado or Michael Bradley comes out of this match a bigger presence likely determines who wins this one. That’s not to say a tricky bounce or controversial call won’t lay out the final score, but the U.S. captain will be at his box-to-box best. He’ll also be hoping to make his imprint as skipper after American failings at the Gold Cup and a disappointing World Cup (personally, though not for lack of distance covered).

    Alejandro Bedoya, Andr s Guardado

  3. Fabian forward? How will Klinsmann deploy Fabian Johnson, who is arguably the best player on the U.S. roster and the perfect role model for DeAndre Yedlin? Johnson is fine as wide back with the freedom to advance, but he simply shines as a quasi-wing for Borussia Monchengladbach.

    How does Klinsmann favor Johnson against Mexico in the what is arguably the biggest non-World Cup game of their international careers? That’ll make a huge dent in the game’s outcome, as Fabian deployed favorably and in-form is a question of which Mexico doesn’t have a good answer.

[ EDWARDS: The case for firing Klinsmann (with a U.S. loss Saturday) ]

BONUS 1: Brad Guzan is getting the keys to the 18, one of the clear mistakes in my book. Yes, Guzan is younger, but Tim Howard‘s big game resume is key, and how many people have ever — on even footing — claimed that Guzan is a better shot-stopper. I’ve no beef with Aston Villa’s keeper, but to say he’s better than a historical U.S. hero is tough to fathom.

BONUS 2: Domestic honks/Klinsmann haters like to point to his MLS omissions as Klinsmann’s Euro-snobbery of the highest order. Well, especially at striker, here’s their chance to dance. Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski and Gyasi Zardes are your four out-and-out attackers, with Aron Johannsson left home at Werder Bremen. John Brooks is hurt, while Bobby Wood and Alfredo Morales are hanging back in Germany, too.

This is an extreme over-simplification given that a minimum of 11 combined starters will hail from European clubs, but an interesting subplot is this equation:

Twelve MLS (plus two Liga MX) players on the U.S.
+ 12 Liga MX players on Mexico
______________________
= ???

 

CONCACAF Gold Cup: Mexico remain at second place in Group C following draw vs. Guatemala

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Ending their match against Guatemala tonight in a scoreless draw, Mexico stays behind Trinidad and Tobago in the Gold Cup Group C standings.

The first half exhibited Mexico as the dominant side on the attack, and even though they enjoyed a large majority of possession, Miguel Herrera and Co. were struggling to find ways to break through Guatemala’s back line.

In the 16th minute, Jonathan Dos Santos whipped a cross from a set piece into the box and it appeared to have caused the handball by striking Los Chapines’ midfielder Jose Contreras. Referees didn’t make the call.

The good news for Mexico in the first 45 minutes was the fact that La Bicolor weren’t intimidating on the offensive end.

Mexico’s best chance came in 34th minute when Oribe Peralta cooly drew several defenders to his body and looped a cross for Andres Guardado at the far post, but the PSV Eindhoven man, who faced a nearly open net, sprayed his flick above the crossbar.

In the 75th minute, Guatemala netminder Paulo Motta was bailed out when Peralta couldn’t hit the ball at close range correctly off a Hector Herrera assist.

One minute later, Contreras was sent off with a red card after succumbing to a second yellow card within three minutes.

Still, Mexico couldn’t come up with the one moment needed to change the course of the game.

El Tri pushed hard at moments with a promising combination between Giovani Dos Santos and Guardado ended in a shot deflected away.

Forward Carlos Esquivel slammed an attempt off the crossbar in the 86th minute.

The unfortunate Mexicans challenged Motta’s basic goalkeeping skills in stoppage time.

Mexico 6-0 Cuba: Oribe Peralta’s hat trick leads the way for El Tri in Gold Cup opener

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Days 1 and 2 of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup brought us four tight, tense games that were decided by a combined one goal (three draws). Thursday’s games from Group C were…well, considerably less competitive.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

Trinidad and Tobago thumped Guatemala, 3-1, in the undercard, a couple hours before Mexico hammered — and continued to hammer — Cuba, to the tune of 6-0, in front of a largely pro-Mexico crowd of 54,126 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

El Tri put to death, emphatically, a seven-game winless streak which stretched back to June 3. Mexico outshot Cuba by a margin of 44 to 3. Carlos Vela and Andres Guardado each bagged a goal of their own, neatly spacing out Oribe Perlata’s hat trick on the night. Giovani dos Santos scored the last one of Mexico’s half-dozen goals.

[ MORE: USA 2-1 Honduras | Three things | Player ratings | Slow start for USMNT ]

To the highlight reel we go…

In truth, nothing was learned from this game. Mexico could/should have won by more than 10 — 44 shots to 3!!! — because Cuba are really, really, really bad. Mexico, who currently sit atop of Group A ahead of Trinidad and Tobago on goal difference, have a date with Guatemala on Sunday.

CCL final: Montreal Impact very much alive after 1-1 draw with Club America in first leg

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The Montreal Impact were not supposed to be here. After finishing 19th (out of 19 teams) in Major League Soccer during the 2014 season, Frank Klopas’s side were supposed to get blown out of the CONCACAF Champions League knockout rounds and serve as an afterthought to the teams with a real chance of winning the competition.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | CCL ]

Someone forget to tell the Impact, because here they are, 90 minutes away from being crowned CONCACAF champions following a 1-1 draw with Mexican side Club America in the first leg of the CCL final on Wednesday night. Forget about winning or even drawing the first leg — they were supposed to get run out of the building, totally embarrassed and effectively defeated before the second leg was even played on their home turf.

The Impact nabbed an early lead (16th minute), and so very nearly did the unthinkable. Dominic Oduro made a darting run into the right channel, played a clever through ball to the top of the box, where Dilly Duka’s dummy attracted the attention of America’s defense just enough to free up Ignacio Piatti near the penalty spot. The Argentine midfielder made no mistake with his finish and Montreal were in dreamland (below video).

Over the next 20 minutes, the Impact saw wave after wave of America pressure come their way, including a great goal being wrongly ruled out for offside in the 26th minute and Miguel Samudio’s stunning full volley clanging off the outside of Evan Bush’s near post in the 33rd minute.

The game’s most controversial moment came just before the halftime whistle when Oduro broke behind the entire America defense and bore down on goalkeeper Moises Munoz. Osvaldo Martinez, who was chasing Oduro down from behind, got a handful of Oduro’s shirt and pulled the Ghanaian speedster down. Criminally, Martinez was only shown yellow for the clear denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

[ MORE: UEFA CL roundup: Real Madrid, Juventus join Barcelona, Bayern Munich in the semis ]

Samudio picked out Dario Benedetto at the penalty spot with a floating cross in the 60th minute, a golden opportunity to equalize, but Benedetto’s subsequent header was right at Bush and an easy save in the end. Either side of the ‘keeper and it was in the back of the net.

America continued to chase an equalizer and came inches from claiming one in the 68th minute, when Rubens Sambueza unleashed a powerful blast from 25 yards out, but the Argentine midfielder’s shot found only the crossbar.

It wasn’t until the 89th minute that America finally broke through, breaking Montreal hearts and planting a further seed of doubt ahead of the second leg. Sambueza whipped in a curling corner kick to the top of the six-yard box where Oribe Peralta was waiting and leapt over the Impact defense to head past Bush and level the game and series at 1-1.

The second leg of this year’s CCL final will be played next Wednesday (8 pm ET) in Montreal, in front of 65,000 at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

LINEUPS

Club America: Munoz, Samudio, Aguilar, Pimentel, Aguilar, Pellerano (Guerrero 70′), Sambueza, Martinez (Peralta 46′), Quintero, Arroyo, Benedetto (Zuniga 80′)

Goals: Peralta (89′)

Montreal Impact: Bush, Toia, Ciman, Soumare, Camara (Miller 66′), Mallace, Reo-Coker (Bernier 76′), Romero, Piatti, Duka (Tissot 71′), Oduro

Goals: Piatti (16′)