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Toronto FC, Seattle and Cruz Azul Advance in CONCACAF Champions League

Tuesday evening, Toronto FC were able to draw 2-2 against CD Montagua in Honduras to enter the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League with an aggregate win of 3-2.  Similarly, the Seattle Sounders drew with Metapan in San Salvador, 1-1, and were able to advance with a victory in aggregate of 2-1.  Cruz Azul, who had to make a come from behind victory against San Francisco last week, demolished the Panamanian team 6-0 in Mexico to also advance to the group stages of the CONCACAF Champions League.

After a three-hour plane flight and five-hour bus ride from Kansas City to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Toronto FC were met rudely by CD Motagua and former teammate Amado Guevera.   Guevera, who was released twice by current Toronto coach Preki (earlier this year, and in 2007 when Preki coached Chivas USA), did his best to prove his old boss’ judgment wrong, by beating Stefan Frei with a powerful diving header in the 6th minute of the match, from a cross by Mauricio Weber.  Motagua maintained their lead into halftime, but Canadian international Dwayne DeRosario was able to knot the score in the 57th minute after getting on a nice through ball from Maicon.  Guevera struck again five minutes later on a left-footed rocket for Motagua to take the lead, but Toronto’s Chad Barrett, who scored the only goal in the first leg of the series, coolly drove home the game-tying goal in the 79th minute, beating Motagua keeper Donaldo Morales to give Toronto FC the aggregate win.  Motagua outshot Toronto FC 9-2 and doubled them in corner kicks, but Guevera, Shannon Welcome and Charles Cordoba all missed second half opportunities. 

In El Salvador, Seattle had to come from behind to draw with Isidro Metapan on a rainy night that turned the field muddier and messier as the game went along.  Metapan were able to open the scoring in the 18th minute, as Anel Canales headed a short chipped ball by Paulo Suarez past Seattle’s Kasey Keller and into the back of the net.  Metapan played a cautious game in the soggy conditions, trying to protect the lead, but Seattle was able to gain the crucial draw in the 73rd minute.  Substitute Alvaro Fernandez, recently acquired by Seattle and a member of Uruguay’s successful 2010 World Cup squad, was able to take a James Riley cross and kick it past Metapan’s  Jose Luis Gonzalez for the 2-1 aggregate win.  Seattle will take on the winner of Wednesday’s Marathon-FC Tauro second leg match on August 19.  The Sounders haven’t lost since their July 4th match against the LA Galaxy.

In Mexico City, Cruz Azul easily dispatched San Francisco 6-0, winning on aggregate 9-2 for the club’s third consecutive appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage.  Cruz Azul may be the hottest club in North America right now, having won both its Mexican Primera league games, scoring five times and not allowing a goal.  Javier Orozco had three goals in the game, and Maximiliano Biancucchi added two more for the iconic Mexican club, with goalkeeper Yosgart Gutierrez getting the clean sheet.  Biancucchi’s second goal was a gem, as he put Los Cementeros up 2-0 in the 18th minute from a flick from Orozco.  Biancucchi, with his back to goal, one touched the ball forward, swiveled and guided a half volley in the far post corner.  In addition to Orozco and Biancucchi’s heroics, Glenir Garcia also got on the scoreboard in the 71st minute.  Cruz Azul will play its first Group A game against Toronto FC on August 7th.

Wednesday night, the Puerto Rico Islanders will be looking to oust the LA Galaxy from the competition in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, while Marathon host FC Tauro with a 3-0 lead going into the second leg of competition, while Santos Laguna host San Juan Jabloteh.  Thursday evening, Brujas and Joe Public do battle, as do CD FAS and Xelaju.

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