By IVES GALARCEP
The Houston Dynamo had a one-goal edge and some daunting history to overcome as they took the field in Torreon, Mexico to take on Santos Laguna. MLS teams have found Estadio Corona to be a house of horrors and the Dynamo became the latest team to find out just how difficult it is to escape Torreon with a result.
Santos Laguna pounced on a pair of Dynamo blunders just five minutes apart to take control of the two-leg series, and put the match out of reach in the 77th minute when Marc Crosas headed home an insurance goal to give Santos Laguna a 3-0 victory and 3-1 series victory in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
The victory sets up a match-up between Santos Laguna and the Seattle Sounders in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinals series. Santos Laguna thrashed Seattle, 7-3 on aggregate, after blowing away the Sounders in the second leg in Torreon.
On Wednesday night, Santos Laguna forced the Dynamo into a pair of costly errors, starting with Warren Creavalle being whistled for a penalty in the 23rd minute. Juan Pablo Rodriguez had his penalty kick saved by Tally Hall, but Hall’s save rattled off the underside of the crossbar and fell in front of goal, where Rodriguez pounced to tie the series.
Gomez made it 2-0 just five minutes later when he forced a Dynamo blunder with some hustle. As Bobby Boswell and Tally Hall hesitated to play a ball rolling toward the Dynamo penalty area, Gomez raced in and shot it past Hall to make the score 2-0.
Houston struggled to create chances against Santos Laguna, managing just two shots on goal. Defensively, the Dynamo struggled to cope with the big field in Torreon and Santos Laguna’s speed, and they wound up devoting more energy to trying to stop Santos Laguna rather than creating chances of their own after Santos Laguna took over the series lead.
Now Santos Laguna will face the Seattle Sounders in the two-led CONCACAF Champions League semifinals. The first leg will take place in Seattle between April 2nd and April 4th, with the second leg being played in Torreon from April 9th and April 11th.
Here are the match highlights: