Richard Sanchez

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Leagues Cup: Lampson leads LA; Fire out

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There’s no shame in Liga MX being a superior league to Major League Soccer, but it would be nice to get more showings of strength from the rapidly improving top flight for Canada and the United States.

The Leagues Cup provided that chance for four teams of MLS, who could make a statement with three quick victories over the next two months. In at least one of Tuesday’s cases, a side’s backups and reserves gave its club the chance to take it more seriously in the semifinals.

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The Mexican sides, by and large, spend more money deeper into their squad, and most of the clubs were established well before still relatively young MLS.

Throw in both MLS sides clearly ignoring the tournament in favor of weekend league outings, and what could’ve been a really cool tournament could’ve also wasted a lot of peoples’ time on Wednesday despite MLS having the distinct advantage of being hosts for all four quarterfinals.

Godspeed, LA Galaxy.

Chicago Fire 0-2 Cruz Azul

Chicago opted to keep many of its first-choice players on the bench or out of the 18, and it showed in an easy win for away side.

Cruz Azul out-attempted the Fire by a 14-5 margin, and held 69 percent of possession. Fire backstop Richard Sanchez was forced to make six saves, but Roberto Alvarado and Elias Hernandez scored late in each half to plug a couple of away goals onto the board.

Alvarado’s goal was simply magical.

LA Galaxy 2-2 (3-1 pens) Club Tijuana

The resilient hosts took the favored visitors to penalties, where

Servando Carrasco gave LA a lead, and Matt Lampson stopped Erick “Cubo” Torres only to see Efrain Alvarez clanked the next effort off the post. Ariel Nahuelpán then leveled the score before Gibran Lajud made a save for Tijuana

But Lampson answered the bell, and it was 1-1 after three rounds each. He made another save on Angel Sepulveda’s poor penalty, and Giancarlo Gonzalez sent the Galaxy into the semifinals.

Tijuana had most of the ball, nearly doubled LA’s passes, and out-attempted the Galaxy 20-7.

Emmanuel Boateng turned a Kai Koreniuk shot past Gibran Lajud for a 27th minute lead, but TJ tied the score within six minutes and took the lead just before halftime.

Dave Romney had an answer after halftime with a thundering header off an Efrain Alvarez corner kick, and LA was back in business with 37 minutes to play.

Tijuana’s Miller Bolanos hit the post in the 70th, but the danger was largely non-existent the rest of the way aside from wasted free kicks.

LA’s Julian Araujo was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card.

FC Dallas goalkeeper Richard Sanchez does his part, but Mexico falls in FIFA under-20s

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Mexico took a stunning, early lead in its clash with tournament favorite Spain in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup round of 16 match in Turkey, but eventually fell, 2-1.

FC Dallas goalkeeper Richard Sanchez, the Mexican starter, certainly did his part in keeping El Tri in the game. His good work included an outstanding kick save early in the second half and a remarkable, diving stretch to push away Francisco Alcacer’s powerful drive.

But just as the 1-1 game seemed bound for extra time, Sanchez (pictured Tuesday against Spain) was unable to shift quickly enough when a shot by Spain’s Jese was deflected in front of him.

So Spain joins Uzbekistan – which advanced with a surprise 3-1 win over Greece 3-1 –as the tournament’s first two quarterfinalists. While Mexico departs Turkey with one win and three losses, Spain prepares for a match against Nigeria or Uruguay.

Sanchez, 19, is FC Dallas’ fast-rising prospect, although he is still No. 3 on Schellas Hyndman’s depth chart behind Raul Fernandez (Peru’s No. 1) and well-regarded backup Chris Seitz, a former U.S. under-20 and under-23.

Mexico survives in FIFA under-20s – but just barely

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First, Mexico fell immediately out of the Confederations Cup. Grouped with Italy and Brazil, it was always going to be tough on Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre’s team.

But combined with the team’s pedestrian performance in final stage World Cup qualifying, it starts to add up.

Across the world in Turkey, the United States under-20 team failed to get out of group play in the FIFA tournament for young pros. (The players in Turkey are mostly 19 and 20, but the majority are already signed by professional teams.)

(MORE: U.S. out after big loss to Ghana)

El Salvador also fell out of the group stage.

Mexico did, at least, sneak out of group play in Turkey – but just barely.

After losses to Greece and Paraguay, the Mexicans advanced into the elimination phase with a 4-1 win Friday over Mail. Mexico (backstopped, by the way, by FC Dallas goalkeeper Richard Sanchez) will play in the Round-of-16 on July 2 or 3.

Richard Sanchez, a young goalkeeper seriously on the rise

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What an interesting situation at FC Dallas, where goalkeeper Raul Fernandez and Chris Seitz just did brilliant preseason battle, both with eyes on the starting spot at FC Dallas Stadium in suburban Frisco.

And yet, the FCD goalkeeper so many are talking goes by Richard Sanchez.

Sanchez, 18, first signed with Dallas as a homegrown product in February of 2011. He signed a new deal last November, as the club wisely tied up the young ‘keeper through 2015.

Sanchez could walk through downtown Dallas unbothered, but he’s big news in Mexico. He backstopped a talented Mexican collection to the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup championship.

Last week, Sanchez was big in the nets as Mexico claimed top honors in Puebla, Mexico, during CONCACAF qualifying for the Under-20 World Cup later this summer in Turkey.

Sanchez was in goal as the Mexicans downed Tab Ramos’ United States team – which included several young MLS men – by a 3-1 overtime result in the tournament final.

Sanchez turns 19 in April. We see young goalkeepers struggle in MLS if fed to the world too early; Zac MacMath in Philadelphia is a good example. Still, you wonder how long before Sanchez can push to displace one of those in the top ‘keeper pairing around FCD?