Thursday Kickoff: Monterrey downs Santos, Raul leaving Schalke, and more

Thursday Kickoff: Monterrey downs Santos, Raul leaving Schalke, and more

European Soccer

Thursday Kickoff: Monterrey downs Santos, Raul leaving Schalke, and more

HumbertoSauazo (Getty)

Mexican powerhouse Monterrey took a giant step toward repeating as CONCACAF Champions League title holders on Wednesday night after a second-half brace from Humberto Suazo gave the Rayados a 2-0 first-leg victory over Santos Laguna.

The match was a tightly contested one until the second half, when Suazo finally broke through with a pair of goals, including a dazzling run through the Santos defense near the end of the match to help give Monterrey a two-goal cushion heading to the second leg in Torreon next week.

The match was not without some controversy. Suazo's two goals came after a questionable challenge on Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez that looked to be a clear second yellow card offense, but the referee let Suazo off and the Chilean striker punished Santos Laguna.

American striker Herculez Gomez earned the start for Santos Laguna, but saw his eight-match goal-scoring streak ended.

Here are some other stories to get your Thursday going:

RAUL LEAVING SCHALKE

Spanish legend Raul has enjoyed an outstanding two seasons with German club Schalke since joining them from long-time home Real Madrid. It appears Schalke will be the final European club after he announced he is leaving the club for opportunities outside Europe.

MLS and Qatar appear to be the most likely destinations for the 34-year-old striker, the leading goal scorer in UEFA Champions League history. He has yet to reveal where he is heading, but Major League Soccer is apparently a potential destination.

MANCHESTER CITY CLOSING IN ON LLORENTE

The club that never runs out of money or big target players to go after has identified its latest target, and we could see another big-money transfer heading Manchester City's way, with a £30 million transfer believed to be the asking price for the Athletic Bilbao striker.

In order to make room for Llorente, City is reportedly prepared to sell striker Edin Dzeko.

THOUSANDS ATTEND MOROSINI FUNERAL

The shocking death of Livorno player Piermario Morosini rocked the soccer world and thousands gathered to pay their respects at his funeral in the northern Italian city of Bergamo.

MANCHESTER UNITED IDENTIFIED AS WORLD'S MOST VALUABLE CLUB

Remember when Manchester United was said to be having some financial troubles? Well, so much for that.

According to Forbes Magazine, Manchester United saw its value rise by an astonishing 20 percent, to a whopping $2.24 billion, to keep Manchester United as the world's most valuable soccer team for the eighth straight year.

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What do you think of these developments? Impressed with Monterrey's performance? Think Santos Laguna can rally in the second leg? Where in MLS would you like to see Raul wind up?

Share your thoughts below.

 

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