It was a downpour in Mexico City as the rain came down hard and too many puddles were on the field at Estadio Azul. But at the start of the match it looked to be a bright ray of sunshine for the defending MLS Cup Champions in Real Salt Lake, but unfortunately it looked to be a repeat of officiating mistakes that crept in once again.
A long distance shot in the 1st minute was bobbled by Yosgart Gutierrez and Will Johnson ran in to convert the rebound, but the goal was disallowed for offside. Replays clearly showed that when the ball was struck, both forwards were behind the defenders and clearly on-side. But in the 5th minute a free kick was awarded to Cruz Azul and it would be Javier Orozco who sprung into a breakaway and scored.
On the replay the foul on Real Salt Lake was the correct call, but the ball was never stopped by Cruz Azul and Horacio Cervantes sent it towards Orozco for the breakaway. Already a terrible start for referee Oscar Moncada and his crew, but Alvaro Saborio who has made a name for himself in the Champions League has shined again.
He would convert a penalty in the 23rd minute after Javier Morales was taken down in the area and got his fourth of the CONCACAF Champions League as he took advantage of the puddles and caught Gutierrez coming off his line. Able to avoid the keeper, he scored his second of the match into an open net in the 43rd minute. But the best of the night from Saborio came in the 64th minute when he outran the defenders at the near side and crossed a fantastic ball to Fabien Espindola and converted for the third goal of the match.
Could you really believe this, three goals to one for Real Salt Lake? Was everyone in Utah and all of the USA starting to pinch themselves? Could this finally be the moment that an American club from Major League Soccer would finally earn their first victory on Mexican soil? Many were thinking so, ’til RSL head coach Jason Kreis started to sub out Fabien Espindola in the 67th and Javier Morales in the 74th.
That’s when the dam broke and Javier Orozco performed a clinic against the defending MLS Cup champion. He added three more goals within fourteen minutes torching Nick Rimando’s net and what was going to be a two goal victory ended up as a one goal loss. But Will Johnson still wanted his goal and within the second minute of second half stoppage time he equalized. It looked possible for Real Salt Lake to steal a point in Mexico City, but sadly it would be Christian Gimenez who would seal the victory for Cruz Azul and save face for the entire country of Mexico.
Outside of the first five minutes this was a decent officiated match and sadly the torrential downpour made the field look terrible with so many puddles in the middle. But once again the main problem with MLS sides is simple. When you have a good lead against a Mexican club side, never take your foot off the pedal. Victory and history was within their grasp and sadly a bit of overconfidence killed off any chance of an upset.
The next chance for an American side to try and grab victory on Mexican soil in the CONCACAF Champions League will be the Puerto Rico Islanders at Toluca on Wednesday, September 15th, but if they can’t do it then the Seattle Sounders, who just lost to Monterrey at Qwest Field, will have to attempt the deed on Wednesday, September 22nd.