CCL: Houston settles for draw, Atlante wins
Six teams were in CONCACAF Champions League action on Tuesday night and two of the three were settled by late scores. The Houston Dynamo, El Salvador's Luis Firpo, Canada's Montreal Impact and Mexico's Atlante all had close games, while Honduras' Olimpia stomped on Joe Public of Trinidad and Tobago.
Olimpia took Joe Public behind the woodshed, winning 4-0. Though the game was meaningless because both teams had already been eliminated from the competition, Olimpia was clearly determined to show well in front of its home fans at the National Stadium in Tegucigalpa.
Jaime Rosales opened up the scoring when he deflected a free kick in the 26th minute. In the 38th minute Brazilian Allan Kardek broke away to score a deft goal after rounding the goalkeeper.
Olimpia didn't let up in the second half. Oscar Garcia put away a pass from Erik Andino in the 72nd minute. Uruguayan Nestor Silva finished off the scoring in the 85th minute, taking advantage of the demoralized Joe Public defense.
The Dynamo looked to cruise in similar fashion when their young squad made up of mostly reserves took on Luis Firpo in El Salvador and started off in dominant style. Their insistent pressure paid off in the 17th minute. After the Firpo players botched the clearance of a deep Dynamo throw-in, Stuart Holden took advantage, lashing the ball into the goal for an early lead.
The Dynamo players showed the reason why they claimed Major League Soccer's reserve league title. They worked together well and created several scoring chances throughout the match. Their youth and inexperience, showed, however, when they proved unable to convert those chances into a safer lead.
Kei Kamara, Corey Ashe and Geoff Cameron came close on various opportunities. The Dynamo goalkeeper, Tony Caig, who has been shaky in the past, seemed much stronger in goal this match, making a number of stops.
The game, however, still had one final plot twist. Luis Firpo managed to pull out its happy ending when it scored late in the match. In the 88th minute. Fernando Leguizamón, latched on to a cross that Caig misplayed. Leguizamón powered the ball through the legs of Dynamo defender Mike Chabala and into the goal.
In the final seconds, Firpo had the chance to steal the game after a handball on Holden gave up a dangerous free kick, but the wall was able to repel the scoring attempt.
Houston now lies two points back of Firpo in Group B, but a win at home in the return leg could vault it into second place in the group.
Atlante of Mexico took on Canada's Montreal Impact in Cancun. The Canadians went up early after Joey Gjertsen scored in the fourth minute. Atlante gave up a ball in midfield and the Impact quickly attacked. Gjertsen fired the ball over Atlante goalkeeper Federico Vilar.
However, the Atlante players kept their composure and struck back 10 minutes later. Clemente Ovalle pounced on a ball that deflected off Impact defender Adam Braz. His quick kick evened the score.
After the teams traded goals, both sides settled down for a long battle that eventually grew chippy. Four Atlante players received yellow cards, while a duo of Impact players saw the same color for their actions. But it was a coach, José Guadalupe Cruz of Atlante, who got a red card for protesting a call too ardently in the 77th minute.
His team rallied in his absence. In the 83rd minute, Gabriel Pereyra got his head on a pass from Luis Gabriel Rey and put in the winning goal for Atlante.