Superliga Matchday Five: Atlante- Guadalajara
Telefutura is claiming that this is a winner take all match so . If that’s the case Atlante is hanging on for dear life early in the second half. Chivas pilling on the pressure with everything on the line. I have to admit I am impressed by the Superliga rules. I like head to head in a competition like this trumping goal difference. If everyone plays everyone else and their are no draws, then why should goal difference matter. So as I read it Houston would win any three way tiebreaker on GD so they are automatically the group champion. Any result for Chivas means they win the group. If they lose Atlante holds the head to head advantage on them so Atlante advances. Confused? Don’t be, it’s what always happens in groups where one team is hardly competitive and each of the other three have beaten them. We’ve seen it in World Cups, Copa America’s Euros, etc.
Back to the match. Despite an excessive amount of chances, the Goats cannot find the back of the net and Atlante has now given up trying to find a second goal and is defending relentlessly. Not that the American public would understand, but how often in Baseball do you get drama like this down the stretch of a match? This is do or die for both clubs!
Ramon Morales is really spurning on the Guadalajara attack now. Chivas has so many chances and Atlante is hunkered down. Than a great counter attack forces Luis Michel to make a great save and concedes a corner. On the set piece, Gerardo Espinoza finishes the game off to make it 2-0. Minutes later after after Gonzalo Pineda hits the post again for Chivas, Atlante counters and almost scores if not for the heroism of Michel who for the second straight match in this competition is shook up. Arturo Munoz was simply trying to casually clean up a live ball after a Maldonado shot and Michel heroically sacrificed his body and looks seriously injured.
An injury like this is awful to see in the dying minutes of a thrilling match which has already been decided. Following the injury the life is sapped out of Chivas and they seem to be simply playing out stoppage time. A valiant effort by the Goats who for the second straight Superliga entered the final group match against a fellow Mexican competitor only needing a draw to advance and instead losing and being eliminated. Atlante comes back from losing the opener 4-0 and has advanced to the knock out stage of the 2008 Superliga.
Houston’s win over DC United has effectively eliminated Atlante from advancing unless the Cancun based side beats Chivas by five goals. Assuming that does not happen this match in front of a partisan Chivas crowd at Buck Shaw Stadium has taken on the feel of a pre season match which of course it is for these teams. However this game has been a thriller again owing itself to what in general is the better technical ability and tactical skill of Mexican players when compared to all but the very best of their American counterparts. As is the case with most matches between Mexican League teams, it’s very open and attacking oriented but not very physical. Defending as often is the case in both MLS and the Mexican League is sometimes very suspect, far below the standard of a top European league. Atlante scores a late first half goal and now needs only four more to advance. Beaten on the goal none other than Johnny Magallion whom I have referred to as the “Mexican Carlos Bocanegra” because his chief qualification for playing center back seems to be his ability in the air on set pieces, and like Bocanegra is generally a liability in open play. Score the goal Giancarlo Maldonado.
The way Atlante is playing and the announcers are speaking, maybe I’m wrong about goal difference determining who advances. Maybe its head to head. If that’s the case, and Houston has already effectively advanced, game on!