By DAN KARELL
The gap might be shrinking between top MLS teams and top Mexican teams, but the harsh reality was on display yet again on Wednesday night that Mexico’s best are still the kings of the CONCACAF region.
Two Major League Soccer teams made it to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, but for the second straight year MLS teams were kept out of the final by their Mexican counterparts.
The Rayados secured a place in the final with a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday night at the Estadio Tecnológico in Monterrey, Mexico. Aldo De Nigris played the villain for the Major League Soccer club once again, finishing a pass from midfielder Cesar Delgado with a strike through the legs of Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini.
The two-time defending champs now face Santos Laguna in a rematch of last year’s Champions League final. Santos will host the first leg in Torreon on April 24th, with the return leg in Monterrey on May 1st.
The Galaxy’s night got off to a bad start before the match even started. Do-everything midfielder Mike Magee was scratched from the starting lineup due to leg soreness, throwing Michael Stevens in the starting lineup just minutes before the start of the match.
A surprise inclusion in the lineup was Landon Donovan, just two weeks after coming back to training with the Galaxy. Donovan played the entire match, but still is clearly coming back to match fitness. He had moments though when he showed the flashes of why he is arguably the greatest U.S. soccer player of all time.
In the 31st minute, the Galaxy were given their best opportunity of the match. A Donovan corner kick ended up sandwiched between two Rayados defenders. When the ball finally dropped, defender Omar Gonzalez was first to react, launching a shot at goal, but straight at the home goalkeeper Juan Ibarra. The ball was saved away, and just seconds later, a curling effort from Galaxy midfielder Juninho was clutched safely by Ibarra.
The MLS side did well to stem the tide of the expensive and talented Monterrey attack. But once the last five minutes of the second half rolled around, it was pretty much all Rayados going forward. The 4-2-4 being played by the home side kept the Galaxy wing backs busy all night, and finally towards the end of the match the Mexican side took advantage.
In the 81st minute, de Nigris ran unimpeded into space in the box, likely due to Galaxy manager Bruce Arena taking off one of his central defenders for a forward just seconds earlier. Cesar Delgado, who was played a through ball in the box, hit a pass backwards into the space occupied by de Nigris, and the Mexican forward finished through the legs of Cudicini, all but ending the tie.
Galaxy forward Robbie Keane, at the other end of the field, didn’t have his best evening. The Irish international let his emotions get the best of him at times and he failed to provide the kind of leadership and talent that his team needed. And though the Galaxy brought in three forwards for defenders in the final 30 minutes of the match, they failed to put the ball in the net.
I would raise the salary cap thusly: The cap stays the same, but if a team signs a DP none of the DP salary counts towards the cap. So you have an incentive to sign DPs not only to get DPs, but also because it gives you lots more effective cap space to add a better core. Cautious teams don’t have to do anything, of course, but this gives room to more ambitous teams while keeping modest shackles on them.
Wouldn’t teams just give DP spots to any player to avoid that salary?
I love Donovan, but I think Bruce Arena should have started Villareal instead of him. The kid has been in great form and Landon is barely getting back to match fitness.
I wish Keane would understand that he is playing in Concacaf, not UEFA, and the officials in this reagion are not the greatest. Stop protesting missed calls and get on with playing. The referee did not give him any calls last night, but it was probably due to the fact that he was complaining so much.
Boy, did Juninho have an uncharacteristically bad night last night. He gave soooo many balls away in the midfield just by not putting enough force on his passes.
Gonzalez played one of his best games EVER! He was a rock star. I wish he could have scored that goal!
The defense was valiant in general but De La Garza was completely gassed in the last 25 minutes. I mean he had no support with only three in the back, so I give him a lot of credit.
I think that LA had a chance to beat Monterrey in this series if they had capitalized on their easy chances to score in the first leg at the Home Depot Center, most notably Sean Franklin’s sitter in the first half of game one. This is a classic lesson in world football; when you squander your chances, a good team like Monterrey will make you pay.
LA dominated again but finishing was shit and end of game loose defense. Omar saved LA so many times.
The ref was an absolute disgrace as usual, f* off concacrap
LA dominated? haha. Then you say Omar saved you so many times, that does not support your argument for your supposed domination.
la dominated?? what a joke. Monterrey had galaxy by the b@lls when they turned it up in the 2nd half, the 1st half Monterrey were playing at half speed. galaxy could’ve shown a little more urgency throughout the match when they needed 2 goals.
LA didn’t dominate at all, if anything they were lucky that Monterrey only scored one goal.
Well, if the games were only 80 minutes long, the Galaxy would have won 1-0 on aggregate. Seriously, though, Monterrey has more good players. As i have said before, MLS needs to about double the salary cap and add another DP to be able to win games like these. Still, progress is being made. What I really like is that some teams are taking chances with DP money on young promising players, mostly from South America. That could pay real dividends in the future.
Yeah, in the end of the day it all comes to money. Garber is joking himself if he thinks that MLS can do well in CONCACAF with such a small salary cap
I would contend that 2 out of 4 semifinalists is in fact “doing well”. It is not “doing great”, however. I think that MLS is in fact approaching or equal to LigaMX, and here is why. The salary cap spreads MLS talent across all the teams, whereas the best talent in LigaMX is concentrated in the best clubs. MLS All-Stars always seem to do pretty well.
So does this mean the Galaxy will finally be getting dropped down in the weekly power-ranking from 1(?!?) to 5 or 6 where they belong?
Yea apparently being unbeaten in MLS makes you deserve 5 or 6, bitter much?
Everyone keeps saying “Raise the salary cap”. While this would be great and teams can pay players more it is not a solution. Player development is way more important. Only a handful of MLS players make their move abroad so what would more money do? Liga MX is home to many South American internationals like Humberto Suazo of the Chilean national team but where do you think the rest of the players come from? #HechoEnMexico . There is a reason that Liga MX limits the number of foreign players in the league and it’s to promote their own youth systems. They have teens playing in the first division.
So while throwing more money at teams may allow them to spend more on players, what’s to say they invest on bringing in more Colombian and Brazilian players (and they may be great but not playing for their national teams)? Youth development will be the back bone of a team, and for MLS it should be the backbone of the league.
Shut up dude. If you want to make sense do it somewhere else.
Please see my post above. It’s not just about throwing money at an immediate problem of depth and top tier talent. There is space for teams to spend time developing a squad of U-23’s in addition to their academy systems.
Honestly though, I could care less about teams playing American talent over foreigners. It is not the job of Professional Sporting franchises to promote the next “Landon Donovan or Tim Howard” except in the interest of the on field and in the bank product. If an American can not beat out a foreigner we should have a problem with that BUT we should have a BIGGER problem when an American is put on the field over a better player from elsewhere because we want to promote something other than the best football. There job is to field a GREAT product and rake in some coin to boot. Then their job is to wash, rinse repeat to greater and great profits and quality of football. Professional Sports is CAPITALISM at it’s best. In sports just like life there are Winners and Losers. Right now, MLS are the losers.
So, I guess by this logic you have no problem shipping every American job overseas because foreigners work for less… this is CAPITALISM at it’s best!!!
If “Americans” won’t support America, who will?
I wouldn’t watch MLS without American players and think the foreign player cap should be slowly reduced. I hope for a day when MLS requires at least 6 US players to be on the field at all times.
Your commitment to America is shameful.
MLS! Do you smell what’s cooking. The best talent and best coaches wins these competitions. Step up your game! Here’s a way …
1. Salary Cap for 2014 Season: 5 Million Dollars
2. Roster Size: 33 Players
3. Designated Players: 5 (American or Intl.)
4. DP Salary Cap Hit: 2.5 Million (500K per Player)
5. No Salary Cap Hit for U-23 Developmental Players: 11 players MAX
6. Remaining Cap for 17 Players: 2.5 Million
You could build a pretty good 23 man roster for about 5 Million and you could still have youth and developmental players participate with the Senior squad as C-Team members on Spot duty with injuries and other competitions. This plan could work and would seriously make title contenders out of MLS teams in two years.
All these people with their same tired old arguments on how to fix the MLS. Bottom line is, and I FN HATE to admit this, is that the Mexican player has more class, skill, technical ability, and understanding of the game. US boys just simply have to play more soccer beginning at an earlier age and NOT play in the vision and creativity styfling (sp?) AYSO program. They have to be playing pickup soccer without adults telling them to share the ball and everyone has to participate. All that Balderdash ruins it for kids. You want American soccer to explode, it has to be played on the playgrounds like they play basketball. Then we have to pick those “soccer inclined” kids from those fields and put them into professional academies and teach them how to become a professional athlete, and educating them along the way in case the game doesn’t work out for them. The robotic American player is just not good enough. Losing to Monterrey HURTS, especially today with all my Mexican students laughing at me… The admission also hurts. WIth that said, (hey I watched The Terminator last night waiting for the game to start…) We’ll be back…
hahahahahaha … there all laughing at me.
give those little bastards extra home work
little bastards is right and they won’t do homework which is why they are at continuation high school… However, I talk so much SHYT to them about mls and the gaLAxy that they got their revenge… Whatever.
You can blame the Americans but I’m gonna blame the Brazilians, the Italian and the Irishman on The Galaxy for going out in the semifinals of the CCL.
Thought Donovan should have been at LM not as a striker. Have to say this also: Donovan tried his old stand by a few times of pushing the ball ahead and running faster than his opponent into space, but alas he has lost speed and he doesn’t quite have that explosive first step anymore.
Still has a good work rate, vison, and decent passing, but he is not as dynamic as he once was.
More failures and unhappy fans!
MLS needs to change DP rules : anyone 600k should be a DP with Internation experience (with their national or top level Euro league or performing outstanding in Argie or Brazilian) with good stats. Also,lower DP by 25% from salary cap.
An increase 25% in salary cap and increase maxium salary 600k (without being DP). Just don’t increase salary cap for two or three years.
Increase the numbes academy players and lower the Internationals in MLS teams, try copy La Liga model not EPL in developing talent.
Hmmm I don’t know if we want to be La Liga. While yes they do develops talent all but two teams can keep them. And to be honest the whole Spanish national team plays for two teams lol. Also America isn’t Spain just because you allow more of our own in doesn’t mean they are worth the opportunity you give them. In Spain or soccer hungry countries I would agree with more youth but America is while different animal. Until we have a passion for the sport imports is the way to go while blending in our own youth.
I am against MLS trying to be La Liga, EPL or Serie A.
I am talking more developing players, B Barca or B Real play in second division against clubs wanting to be promoted. Valencia, Sevilla, Bilbao are outstanding producing their own local talent from their youth system, and some do amazing scouting in South America, Africa and weaker Euro leagues in developing and transfer. Example: Galaxy B plays in USL or NASL. Or Galaxy’s youth teams plays PDL.
Teams like Real Madrid and Barca have their B teams playing in second division.
Bruce, we need more americans, Arena just got Mexi-Melted in both games. I will take solid foreigners over jack mcbean every day of the week. that kid was just atrocious last night.
In all seriousness though was it comes down to is our style of play in the MLS. We are such a defensive league and lack the attacking creativity needed to win competitions like this. Now before anybody starts bringing up chelsea, any team who has drogba has a chance reguardless of style of play. If we want to continue to grow this league then we need more teams playing like SKC. We need more guys like Caleb Porter, Vermes, who are interested with building programs and defining clubs. You can see our young players are not learning how to think out there
Bruce, we need more americans, Arena just got Mexi-Melted in both games. I will take solid foreigners over jack mcbean every day of the week. that kid was just atrocious last night.
In all seriousness though was it comes down to is our style of play
McBean needs to develop and their was no midfield creating chances, and midfield had no control.
I’ve never been impressed when I’ve seen McBean. He reminds me of a “Adam Cristman” type player that shouldn’t be collecting paychecks in MLS.
Question for those that think MLS needs to increase the salary cap to beat Mexican teams:
Why is it that “some” South American teams are able to beat or be more competetive against Mexican teams on smaller budgets than MLS?
1. A far better academy, youth development system.
2. Far better coaching.
3. Better judgement of players from outside the league. How many deadends have been brought into this league recently? Far more than what should be. We need better scouts.
for me it comes down to style of play. they play a more similar style to these mexican teams and therefore matchup more efficiently. The Bruce Arena school of “work hard and win battles” only takes teams so far. When that approach is put against a mexican team who can counter attack with speed and ferocity it just doesnt work. LAs hard work often worked them into trouble. Beckham was the brain behind this robot before. Now, they have no brain offensively.
Ditto with Josh D.
4. Most South Americans already started their seasons, while MLS teams barely starting and need more time new players to gel with team (like Martins with Sounders).
5. Most South American players are playing to be scouted and leave their clubs for higher pay check. They have hunger to impress and MX pays more most South American leagues (thanks to American TV renueve and American sponsorship), these players and coaches want impress for big check in MX, Brazil’s, Euro leagues or Asian leagues (China or some Arab ones).
6. South American leagues have many years headstart on MLS. Kids and adults play anywhere, indoors, outdoors, on the streets etc.
Agree 100% with Josh D & MA1 Rodriguez
Because their base of talent is better then ours. If a team from Chile or Uruguay had the same salary cap and DP rules as a MLS team, who do you think will have a better team? American talent in soccer isn’t deep enough to fill the gaps with enough quality players to win big right now.
Because it doesn’t cost 10k a year to play soccer.
What S. American teams are beating Mexican teams on budgets < 2.3 Million Dollars?
Top teams in Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay and mid-level Argentinian teams.
Velez, Emelec, Colon, Newels, U de Chile…..the list is too long but it should give you an idea. BTW any of these teams would walk their way to a CCL championship.
Good coaches, great player development and small budgets.
MLS only has one of them.
Over 75% Uruguayan League is Semi-Pro. Majority of players make below 16k a year.
Let me know when the league is ready to take the next step, Don.
Stumbled into MLS’ combined CCL record year by year today. Way better than they used to be even just five years ago.
+1. Great reply
Source if anybody’s wondering. Decent blog that I at least scroll through to look for gems like this.
LA had some very great moments in front of the goal, but like most MLS teams, could not finish.
Landon Donovan should not be starting anything right now. As was feared–he waltzed back into the starting lineup regardless of fitness or form.
No Juninho, no Magee… they had no choice but to start Donovan and hope he could pull out some magic.
On the bright side, Donovan is getting more fitness by playing games.
I’m rarely rag on LA and this is no different. They had a good run but realistically Monterrey had this series in the bag, more so than Santos. As far as who wins the final, i don’t care but i will be rooting for the winner.
Few bad calls the Galaxy didn’t get from the referee, but hey, that’s CONCACAF. Monterrey did what they had to do and the Galaxy didn’t, simple as that. Glad to see the gap closing but still a ways to go. Hopefully MLS quality can improve with both development and more salary cap to bring quality players. Saw the report where Suazo almost had a deal with the Chicago Fire. Hey, if you can’t beat them, BUY them.
5 minutes left in the second half?
Has anyone here watched Monterrey play before this tournament?
They did the same thing to the Galaxy in the first game. Turned up the pressure in the second half and got in the 18 constantly.
Omar had some great last minute tackles to clear out the danger but again, his distribution is poor even when he’s not under pressure.
Besler’s distribution is better tbh. But he’s not the pure cold blooded ball hog that Omar is. Makes a great pairing though…
AEG really build this team around Beckham’s long accurate passing over the defense. You could see LAG trying to send balls over the top to Keane and Donovan all night but they never seemed to find them the way they did with Beckham. I think LAG need to turn the page on the over the top style of football they played when they had Beckham, its not workig in the league anymore and not in CCL either.
They had players to win this, Donovan, Keane and Juninho are about the same level as what Monterray had in Suazo, De Nigris, and Cordozo, and I’d take the LAG backline of Gonzolez, Leonardo, Dunivant and De La Garza all day over Monterray’s. The problem was the attack plain and simple, LAG’s style of play just could not break down Monterray’s defense. They needed a stronger CAM/#10 type player to unlock the defense, but instead were relying on their old style of play from when they had Golden Balls looping in crosses from 50 yards back.
That awesome backline gave up 3 goals with 2 coming in LA.
It has been said many times but I will say it again. Whoever wins the midfield will likely win the game.
Omar did have some great interventions during the game. I agree with the commentators who praised his ability to slide in and hook the ball a number of times, as well as his timing and positioning throughout most of the game.
Overall though, I would still hold Monterrey’s backline in higher regard. Basanta was called up to Argentina’s squad. Hiram Mier is a classy CB in the mold of Gaetano Scirea or Elias Figueroa. Elegant on the ball, good positioning and excellent distribution. He is quick to get an attack started thanks to his vision and passing abilities. Also reminds me of Marquez while at Barcelona, particularly that 2005-2006 season when he was easily in the top 5 defenders in the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if he heads to Spain, Italy or the Netherlands in the near future.
Darvin Chavez has been called up before for El Tri and is a great defender, even though he may not provide the overlapping runs that Meza does on the right. All in all, a very good back line.
Robbie Keane with an emotional outburst? Color me stunned.
Keane is a great player but I don’t know how long I would last being a teammate of his. He constantly complains about everything, even when the team is winning MLS Cups. I don’t think i’ve ever seen a player whine as much as he does.
Winning seems to mask a lot of Keane’s petulant behavior. Guess I’m just not a fan of how he treats officials, opponents and even his own teammates..
Yes. And one of his little hissy fits included a cheap cleats-out kick at the Monterrey player. He was lucky not to get carded.
Omar Gonzalez looked very solid, but the rest of the Galaxy looked pretty much… well, “MLS.” The familiar U.S. style of play that appears *labored*. Keep yourself in the game with lots of hussle and physicality, but ultimately end up disappointed due to lack of vision and touch.
I wouldn’t say that’s MLS, but it’s certainly Bruce’s style. He’s everything Olsen wishes he could be with his style of hardworkers compensating a lack of skill.
But Sporting, Real, and Red Bulls are playing decent, on the ground soccer.
Add Montreal, Vancouver maybe say a Dallas and even a Columbus…..
This team is an Arena-type squad if there ever was one.
Play from the back. More things in the air than on the ground.
Goal scoring from about 2-3 guys.
Loyalty sort of calls in terms of roster selection.
Regardless, Bruce’s style works and has worked at just about every level.
Attacking/”beautiful soccer it’s not, kinda able to get things done it is.
Hence, a loss in the semis to a sharp Mexican side)
(note:Yes Bruce won the Inter-American Cup years back, As stated earlier, his style works)
I get what you saying, Beckham was the same but remember this a players that were playing in the elite teams in Europe. They played in the Real Champions league team. EPL, La Liga, Seria A and you came here try to play good football and you don’t have the tools. Did you see how many time keane was fouls and the referee didn’t do crap and yet he was call in almost everything for Monterey. I understand we all don’t like a person who whines too much, But R. Keane had played with so much passion that I haven’t see that in a lots of Designated Players for a long time and that includes Beckham, Marquez, and many others. But like you said it his emotional outburst, constantly complains etc. etc. is cause he is a pure player plus he is Irish is in his blood.
i can see how keane was frustrated..they played hack a keane and the ref never called it..
Keane hasn’t been good since his failed stint with Liverpool. He’s more of a hustler than a poacher. I can still remember him in 2002 as a youngster. As a DC fan, but a Keane one too, count me disappointed with him this season. It’s those kinds of players with European experience who you look to away to Mexico.
Seriously?? do you not remember his last loan to Villa. he was brilliant.
as for last night I thought he was the best galaxy player on the pitch. He was involved in every major chance the team had all night.
If MLS is ever going to win this they need to increase the salary cap so MLS can bring in the quality players they need and build the depth on their benches. Until that happens the Mexican teams will always have the advantage.
Agree 100%…the better players play where the money is!
It seemed like Monterrey was the team that was down on aggregate. They semmed far more aggressive. Disappointed with the result. But still shows that Mexican teams are better. If you can’t beat them, buy them.
Disappointing. MLS < Liga MX.
I’m looking forward to the 2013-2014 edition. I think SKC can do quite well in this competition and be the first MLS club to win the competition in it’s current format.
San Jose too. Not a weak team in the (US) bunch. Hopefully Montreal will win the Canadian Championship. So tired of TFC being an embarrassment, other than that one time they beat LA for some reason.
SKC flames out of the the MLS playoffs each year so why would anyone think they would do well in this much higher level competition???
SKC (former Wizards) did quite well in the early days of CCL if I’m not mistaken. Peter Vermes was a part of that. (someone correct me if Im wrong?)
we’ve said this every year for the past few years. about any team that looks really good in MLS. we’ve done well, but the truth is Liga MX is still stronger at this point. so while i do agree with you, it’s hard to continue to use that logic and be disappointed every time. haha
Really? I think if any MLS club had a chance it would be the Sounders. I just don’t see SKC being all that much different from LAG or SS. Also you have to remember Xolos will be their next year, so I predict another Mexican CCL champion.
Did anyone really think LA could overcome the two away goals Monterrey scored in LA? LA is a few stars, a few up and comers (Villareal), a few old timers (Cudicini) surrounded by a bunch of squad, kinda-role players (Stephens).
“Hope is irrational.”
-Huey Freeman, on MLS and the CCL
+1 for the Boondocks link.
The Chicago Cubs website is that way.