Well I have to say that this was a very good week for MLS sides getting involved with the CONCACAF Champions League Group Stages. In the first week of competition we saw three of the four sides earn wins. Unfortunately for the Seattle Sounders they were hit with some bad luck once it got towards the 45th minute. After a Roger Levesque tally in the 16th minute they lost the lead when Club Deportivo Marathon’s Orvin Paz converted his equalizer on a set piece with a right foot bender past Kasey Keller in the 27th minute.
But unfortunately the bad luck happened to Seattle’s Tyrone Marshall as he was trying to clear the ball inside his own penalty area when Hector Amarilla got to it first and got whacked on the back of his right leg accidentally. No intent by Marshall at all, but still it was an offense in the area and Nicolas Cardozo took the spot kick to convert his chance before first half stoppage time.
The Sounders had plenty of chances to get the equalizer, but if it wasn’t wide or high, Marathon’s keeper Shane Orio was there to make the save or stop any chance of a rebound to get by him. But for Columbus, Real Salt Lake & Toronto FC they were able to take wins in their first match.
Real Salt Lake hosted Panama’s Arabe Unido at Rio Tinto Stadium and the first half was evenly played. The first goal came from Armando Cooper in the 13th minute as the RSL defense tried to keep the ball out, but the ball deflected off Nat Borchers and in the net. A terrible tackle in the 28th minute forced a sending off on Unido as Nahil Carroll did a two footed studs up tackle on Kyle Beckerman and Unido was down to ten men.
Alvaro Saborio was the hero of the night as he scored two goals for Salt Lake to get their first win in international club competition. A 44th minute equalizer off his head from a cross, then a penalty in the 90th minute. But sadly the embarrassment of that match was the entire club of Arabe Unido.
I have never seen so much flopping and faking of injuries as the entire side tried to milk that clock. Even one of the players being stretchered off took it easy getting to the sidelines and drank a bottle of water. Andres Santamaria got double yellow for dissent against the referee and will miss Unido’s next match in the Champions League.
A fabulous 14th minute header from Emmanuel Ekpo gave the Crew a lead that never was challenged that strongly by Club Municipal of Guatemala . Solid defense from Columbus and good keeping from Andy Gruenebaum got the Crew their three points. Another strong performance for Toronto FC at their fortress called BMO Field. Leading all the way after two first half goals by Martin Saric early in the first half and Mista late in the 44th minute.
Christian Eduardo did pull one back for Cruz Azul, but it was in the 90th minute that goal was scored and Toronto prevails with their first victory in the group stage of the Champions League. So after one week of the Champions League MLS gets three wins out of four matches and let’s see what’s going to happen next week.