Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – Monterrey CF

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on November 30, 2011

Monterrey CF club badgeMexican clubs have dominated the CONCACAF Champions League in recent years and Monterrey CF kept up that trend when winning their maiden title this year. Monterrey, therefore, will enjoy their first appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup with a quarter-final tie against the winner of the qualifying play-off between Oceania champions Auckland City and the J-League champions (as yet undecided).

Monterrey started off their CONCACAF Champions League campaign with a record of five wins and a draw from their six group phase games against Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica), CD Marathón (Honduras) and Seattle Sounders (USA). They then had to beat two fellow Mexican clubs in consecutive knockout rounds, a 1-0 win in each leg helping them through the quarter-finals against Toluca whilst the semi-finals against Cruz Azul was won by the odd goal in five. The 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League final against 2009 Major League Soccer champions Real Salt Lake was a tight affair, the Americans gaining the tag of slight favourites to win the trophy following a credible 2-2 draw away from home in the first leg with goals from Monterrey’s Aldo de Nigris and Humberto Suazo cancelled out by strikes for Nat Borchers and Javier Morales. The Mexicans though had enough in the tank to take the game to their hosts in the second leg with Humberto Suazo proving to be the hero, his goal on the edge of half-time proving crucial as Monterrey held on to win the second leg 1-0 and the tie 3-2 on aggregate.

Since Monterrey clinched the CONCACAF Champions League back in April they have been defending their title in the 2011-12 edition of the competition. So far Monterrey have kept up their impressive form, topping their group once again, and look forward once more to a quarter-final match-up against a Mexican side, in this case Monarcas Morelia, when the tournament resumes in March 2012. Domestically Monterrey have been struggling somewhat in the 2011-12 Apertura (Opening Championship) tournament; having won the previous two Opening titles Monterrey could only finish in 11th place during the regular season and failed to make the play-offs. Monterrey’s last competitive game came on November 5th so they might prove a little bit rusty going into the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. Should the Mexicans win their quarter-final tie they will face off against a Santos team who will be going straight to the tournament on the back of a tough Brazilian league season which finishes on December 4th.



CONCACAF: Monterrey hope to defend Champions title in 2011-12

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on August 15, 2011

Monterrey CFNorth and Central American champions Monterrey CF will begin their defence of the CONCACAF Champions League this week and it is difficult to look beyond them or any of their compatriots from Mexico claiming the crown yet again. Since the tournament was re-branded from the old CONCACAF Champions Cup three years ago Mexican clubs have claimed the title every year and it is difficult to see who can stop that trend from continuing this time around

Monterrey CF have had a successful couple of years having been Mexican champions in the last two Apertura championships and they complimented domestic success with the big continental prize earlier this year by defeating American side Real Salt Lake 3-2 on aggregate in the 2010-11 final. The defending champions should easily progress from Group D in this year’s competition as they face Guatemalan champions CSD Comunicaciones, American Open Cup champions Seattle Sounders and Costa Rican outsiders CS Herediano. The latter two teams sealed their places in the group stage by defeating San Francisco (Panama) and Alpha United (Guyana) respectively in the qualifying round.

The other Mexican teams in the competition should also encounter few problems in the group phase of the competition. Two of them, Santos Laguna and Monarcas Morelia, had to feature in the qualifying rounds before they were assured of CONCACAF Champions League football this year but aggregate wins over Olimpia (Honduras) and Tempête FC (Haiti) saw them through and with neither of these clubs ever having won this tournament they are both keen to break their duck this year. Monarcas’ two clashes against Los Angeles Galaxy in Group A will be amongst the most anticipated clashes in the group stage especially as the American side are desperate to end the Mexican stranglehold on the competition and seem the most likely non-Mexican team to have a major chance of emerging victorious this season. UNAM Pumas have been continental champions on three occasions but have endured 22 years of hurt since their last win in 1989. They will face MLS side FC Dallas, Canadian champions Toronto FC and Panamanian Tauro FC in Group C and should at least make it to second place in the group.

GROUP A: Alajuelense (Costa Rica), Los Angeles Galaxy (USA), Monarcas Morelia (Mexico), Motagua (Honduras)

GROUP B: Colorado Rapids (USA), Isidro Metapán (El Salvador), Real España (Honduras), Santos Laguna (Mexico)

GROUP C: FC Dallas (USA), Tauro FC (Panama), Toronto FC (Canada), UNAM Pumas (Mexico)

GROUP D: CSD Comunicaciones (Guatemala), Herediano (Costa Rica), Monterrey (Mexico), Seattle Sounders (USA)

Mexico: Can Monterrey win third straight Apertura?

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on July 22, 2011

Monterrey CFThe Mexican football season kicks off this weekend with eighteen teams hoping to claim the Apertura (Opening) Championship. UNAM Pumas are the most recent Mexican champions following their 2010-11 Clausura (Closing) Championship success but Monterrey will hope to repeat their 2010-11 Apertura title triumph.

The new season will see a slightly different format in the first stage of each championship. Instead of the eighteen teams being split into three different groups there will now be just one championship table which will clearly decipher who the best eight teams of the regular season are and will, thus, decide the post-season play-off fixtures which ultimately decide each championship. Monterrey are looking for a third straight Apertura championship having won the 2009 & 2010 editions but will also have to pay attention to their CONCACAF Champions League campaign which they enter this season as title holders following their 3-2 aggregate win over American side Real Salt Lake in last season’s final.

UNAM Pumas have been largely inactive in the transfer window and have added no further players to their squad thus far. The champions, who won a 7th domestic crown last season, will also be participating in the CONCACAF Champions League along with the two best non-champion teams of the 2010-11 campaign Monarcas Morelia and Santos Laguna. Club America, traditionally the biggest club in Mexico, haven’t won a domestic title for six years but after signing last season’s Apertura top scorer Christian Benitez from Santos Laguna hopes are high that they can challenge for a title this time around.

The situation regarding relegation in Mexico is similar to that in Argentina in which each team’s points average over three seasons (six championships) will determine who goes down into the second tier Liga de Ascenso next season. Tijuana, from the north west of the country on the Mexico-US border, will naturally start with zero points in the averages table having been promoted last season at the expense of Necaxa. They will be hoping to have a good season so that they can climb above the likes of Estudiantes Tecos (1.0441 average), Queretaro (1.0882), Jaguares (1.1324) and Atlas (1.1471) who lie immediately above them at the commencement of the new campaign.

Estudiantes Tecos will begin the new season on Friday, 22 July with a home match against Toluca. Four matches take place on Saturday, the biggest of them being Pachuca v Santos Laguna, whilst Sunday will also see four games played with defending champions UNAM Pumas at home to San Luis while last season’s Apertura champions Monterrey face a potentially tricky away tie at Jaguares.

CONCACAF: Monterrey claim maiden Champions title (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on April 29, 2011

North and Central America hails a new champion team and it is to nobody’s surprise that the team comes from Mexico. Monterrey CF have claimed the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time after a 3-2 aggregate win over Major League Soccer side Real Salt Lake. After the first leg finished 2-2 in Mexico seven days earlier, this Wednesday saw an expectant 20,000 crowd at the Rio Tinto Stadium hoping to see Salt Lake claim a first Champions League title for an American side under the current format. However the visitors had other ideas and a tight contest was decided by a Humberto Suzao goal on the stroke of half-time. The 1-0 win saw the Mexicans home and they follow Atlante CF and Pachuca CF onto the roll of honour as the only clubs to have won this tournament since its rebranding in 2008.

CONCACAF: Monterrey and Salt Lake still level after first leg

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on April 21, 2011

The first leg of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League final saw Monterrey CF and Real Salt Lake draw an exciting match by two goals each. The Mexican side are hoping to make it yet another triumph for the country whose clubs have won each of the last six tournaments whilst Major League Soccer outfit Real are hoping to put the league back on the map and become the first team from the United States to win this competition since a pre-Beckham Los Angeles Galaxy achieved the feat back in 2000. Goals by Aldo de Nigris and Humberto Suazo for Monterrey were cancelled out on each occasion by Nat Borchers and Javier Morales. The second leg of the final takes place in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 27th.


CONCACAF: Salt Lake and Monterrey to face-off in final (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on April 7, 2011

Real Salt Lake and Monterrey CF will feature in the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League final after the semi-finals came to a conclusion this week.

Major League Soccer champions in 2009, Real Salt Lake qualified for their first ever CONCACAF Champions League final by virtue of defeating Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa by three goals to two in the two-legged contest. The first leg, played on American soil on March 15th, saw home side Real take the honours with a 2-0 win thanks to Álvaro Saborío and Fabián Espíndola. This Tuesday saw the tie come to a conclusion with Jamison Olave’s 61st minute strike for Salt Lake prove decisive. His goal sandwiched strikes from Saprissa’s Luis Cordero and Alonso Solis to give the Americans a 3-2 aggregate triumph and a place in their maiden final.


They will face-off against Mexicans Monterrey CF in the final after their 3-2 aggregate win over compatriots Cruz Azul. In the first leg, played a fortnight ago, Neri Cardozo and Sergio Santana got the goals for Monterrey CF as they defeated their opponents 2-1 with Adrián Cortés bagging a reply for Los Cementos. Cruz Azul, hoping to reach their third consecutive Champions League final, had home advantage in the second leg this Wednesday and went ahead after 23 minutes through Cesar Villaluz. But Monterrey, whose only continental title to date is the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup triumph from 1993, restored parity just nine minutes before full-time with Humberto Suazo scoring from the penalty spot. The 3-2 aggregate reverse means that Cruz Azul’s curse in this competition continues whilst Monterrey will meet Real Salt Lake in the two-legged final on April 19th and 26th.


CONCACAF: Cruz Azul cement first leg advantage, review (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on February 25, 2011

CONCACAF Champions League logoIt’s the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League, North and Central America’s elite football competition, and the first legs have been completed over the last few days and each tie still remains in the balance.

Featuring prominently in the last eight line-up are two all-Mexican ties. Cruz Azul, runners-up in the last two years, started the knockout phase of this year’s competition on a winning note getting the better of compatriots Santos Laguna. The tournament’s top scorer so far, Javier Orozco, bagged his eleventh strike of the competition in fortunate fashion when giving Los Cementos the lead after 58 minutes. It took just ten minutes for Cruz Azul to double their advantage thanks to Christian Giménez and that was how the match finished up. In the other all-Mexican clash CF Monterrey were ultimately grateful to Osvaldo Martínez for scoring the only goal of the game against their hosts Deportivo Toluca with eight minutes remaining.


Another fascinating clash took place in the United States with 2008 MLS Cup winners Columbus Crew playing host to 2009 MLS Cup champions Real Salt Lake and with both teams preparing for a new domestic season to kick off this was the perfect opportunity for either team to gain on a notch on their rivals. Sadly, for neither team, opportunities went begging and the game petered out into a goalless draw. In the final game, played on Thursday night, Costa Rican record champions Deportivo Saprissa took away a slender 1-0 advantage from their home tie against  Honduran opponents C.D. Olimpia with Armando Alonso scoring the only goal after 23 minutes.


CONCACAF: Mexicans favourites again as Champions League resumes

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on February 21, 2011

CONCACAF Champions League logoThe CONCACAF Champions League resumes this week with an interesting fixture list as the competition commences its knockout stages. There are two all-Mexican affairs as well as an all-American encounter and an intriging match-up involving the record champions of Costa Rica and Honduras. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks ahead to the last eight clashes.

With Mexican clubs dominating this tournament in recent years the odds are very favourable that this pattern of events will continue this season although one big relief for the rest of the opposition is that the Mexican contingent will be cut by half in the quarter-final stages. Group B winners Santos Laguna, who came top of a group containing Columbus Crew, Municipal CSD and Joe Public FC, will meet compatriots Cruz Azul who have not enjoyed their fair share of luck in this tournament in recent years. The last time Los Cementos won this tournament was in its former guise of the Champions Cup in 1997 but since then have lost the last two Champions League finals against Atlante FC (2008-09) and Pachuca CF (2009-10). If they are to make it third time lucky then they will have to get the better of a Mexican side in both the next two rounds.

That’s because the winners of this game are due to meet the winners of the other all-Mexican clash between Deportivo Toluca and current Mexican champions Monterrey CF. Deportivo Toluca, at the time of writing, have the fourth best record in the current Mexican Clausura championship and are in good form coming into their quarter-final against Apertura champions Monterrey who are hoping to win the continent’s biggest prize for the first time in thier history. Monterrey finished top of Group D ahead of Deportivo Saprissa, CD Marathón and Seattle Sounders with the best record of 5-1-0 in the group stage whilst Toluca had to be satisifed with second spot in Group C behind Olimpia.

The all-American affair between Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake will be much anticipated especially as the competition is awaiting its first winner from Major League Soccer. 2009 MLS champions Real Salt Lake finished ahead of Cruz Azul at the top of Group A and will prove a stern test for 2008 MLS champions Columbus Crew who had to contend with second spot in Group B behind Santos Laguna. But, with the 2011 MLS season not beginning until March 15th, both teams will want to lay down a marker ahead of the new domestic season with success on the international stage. The final quarter-final sees Costa Rican giants Deportivo Saprissa, three-time winners and the last team from outside Mexico to win this tournament in 2005, face up to the challenge of Hondurans CD Olimpia who won the second of their two continental titles to date in 1988. Saprissa finished six points behind Monterrey in their group whilst Olimpia pipped Toluca to the top in Group D by three points and the winners of this quarter-final will meet the victors of the all-American clash.

The first legs of the quarter-finals will be played on February 22-24 with the second legs following on March 1-3.

CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTER-FINAL DRAW (All two-legged ties – team on left at home in 1st leg)

1. Deportivo Toluca v Monterrey CF

2. Cruz Azul v Santos Laguna

3. Columbus Crew v Real Salt Lake

4. Deportivo Saprissa v CD Olimpia


5. Winner Match 1 v Winner Match 2

6. Winner Match 3 v Winner Match 4


7. Winner Match 5 v Winner Match 6

CONCACAF: Mexican clubs get the job done yet again (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on October 22, 2010

After the conclusion of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League group stage Mexican clubs have done what comes naturally to them and have swept up half of the available quarter-final spots. Two teams from the United States and one each from Honduras and Costa Rica make up the remainder of the octet of clubs who now have serious aspirations in this competition which will resume in February. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the final matchday.

Group A was sewn up on Tuesday with Major League Soccer champions Real Salt Lake getting the job done in their final group match against their only challengers for top spot Cruz Azul. For the Americans the result was never in doubt after a Paulo Araujo brace and a goal from Collen Warner gave them a 3-0 lead with twenty minutes remaining although Los Cementos did manage to pull a consolation goal back thanks to César Villaluz. Real Salt Lake finished top of the standings with 13 points, Cruz Azul three points behind in second whilst Canadian champions Toronto FC finished their campaign respectably with eight points following their 1-0 home win over Panama’s Arabe Unido.


Santos Laguna topped the group B table in great fashion with a 6-1 home thrashing of Guatemalans Municipal. The game already seemed over at the break with Santos holding a 3-1 advantage and the Mexicans sealed the deal with three further goals to cement first place in the table with thirteen points. Municipal’s defeat meant that Columbus Crew had also qualified for the quarter-finals before their Matchday 6 game against bottom club Joe Public got under way on Thursday night. Emilio Rentería got on the score sheet twice for Columbus who finished off their group stage campaign with a convincing 4-1 win away at the Trinidadian team. This meant Columbus finished one point behind Santos Laguna in second place whilst Joe Public propped up the whole group with only the single point gained from their Matchday 2 game at Municipal to show for their efforts.

Monterrey CF were already assured of their first place finish in Group C before either Matchday 6 encounter was played. The real drama took place on Tuesday as Costa Rica’s Deportivo Saprissa, CONCACAF champions in 2005, took to the field away in Seattle against a Sounders team who, despite their terrible form in this year’s Champions League, were already assured of a place in next season’s tournament thanks to their recent US Open Cup victory. The Sounders took the lead after 17 minutes thanks to Nate Jaqua but Saprissa responded nine minutes later with Jairo Arrieta restoring parity. As the game wore out to a close Saprissa, who had seemed to have dropped two crucial points, scored a last-gasp 89th minute winner with Josué Martinez scoring his second goal of the campaign. As it turned out Marathón lost out in their final game at home to Monterrey by a goal to nil, therefore Saprissa claimed second place by four points from the Hondurans.


Group D came to a close on Wednesday with Toluca clinching second place in the group with a 5-0 pasting of FAS El Salvador thanks mainly to a Héctor Mancilla hat-trick. This win allowed the Mexican side to leapfrog over the Puerto Rico Islanders into second place as the CFU Caribbean club champions went down to a 3-0 defeat in Honduras against group winners Olimpia. The Puerto Ricans were still in the game at the half-time break as they held their hosts to a goalless first forty-five minutes. However the floodgates opened once Roger Rojas bagged his and Olimpia’s opening goal on 53 minutes. After Rojas scored again in the 77th minute it was Fabio de Souza who sealed the Islanders’ fate in the competition by hitting the third goal with nine minutes to go. Olimpia top the group on 13 points, Toluca three points behind whilst the PR Islanders were so near, yet so far with eight points.



CONCACAF: Three teams seal QF berths; Matchday 5 Review (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on October 1, 2010

The line-up for the quarter-final stages of the CONCACAF Champions League is one step closer to being completed after three teams sealed their qualification on Matchday 5. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the latest developments.

Both of the qualifiers from Group A were decided on Tuesday night and it was no surprise to see last season’s finalists Cruz Azul and MLS champions Real Salt Lake clinch their berths for the next round. Cruz Azul had no problems in sealing their place with a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Panama’s Arabe Unido. Emmanuel Villa scored the opening goal of the game after just sixty seconds and many fans would have been forgiven for thinking that there would be a cricket score by the end of the game. However there was just one more goal in the remaining time when Adrián Cortés converted a penalty kick a couple of minutes after the half-time break. Real Salt Lake faced a difficult match on the road to Canadian champions Toronto FC and it was the hosts who took the lead when Jacob Peterson caught the Real defence out on 20 minutes. Real Salt Lake equalized midway through the first half when Javier Morales curled home a beautiful free-kick. The top two teams both have ten points after five matches, five points ahead of Toronto FC whilst Arabe Unido languish in fourth place with three points. Matchday 6 sees the top two fight it out in Salt Lake City for the group leadership while Toronto and Arabe Unido hope to avoid the wooden spoon.


Group B remains open with three teams still in with a chance of taking the top two places. A win for Columbus Crew on Wednesday night would’ve signalled the end of CSD Municipal’s challenge in the tournament but the Guatemalans had other ideas in their home encounter against the Major League Soccer team. Guillermo Ramírez gave Municipal a two goal lead in the first half only for Columbus’ Andy Iro to halve the gap in first half stoppage time. With no further goals Columbus Crew blew their chance to secure their place in the quarter-finals but they should be able to do so on Matchday 6 where they face off against the group’s bottom club Joe Public FC. The team from Trinidad & Tobago lost heavily to Mexicans Santos Laguna for whom five different players got on the score sheet in their 5-1 win. The win helped Santos Laguna regain top spot in the group with ten points, one more than Columbus Crew and two ahead of Municipal. On Matchday 6 Santos Laguna face-off against Municipal in what will be one of the ties of the round.

Monterrey CF may have lost their 100% record in Group C on Tuesday night but that didn’t stop them from ensuring their qualification to the quarter-finals after a tough 2-2 draw away at Costa Rican champions Deportivo Saprissa. The Mexicans led 2-1 at the break but José Mena’s 66th minute equalizer ensured a share of the spoils for Saprissa who are battling it out with Club Deportivo Marathón for a top two spot. Marathón conceded second place in the group standings to Saprissa on Wednesday night having lost to a Seattle Sounders side who had lost all of their previous four group matches in this year’s competition. Michael Fucito was on target for the Sounders with a goal in each half as the Seattle club restored some lost pride although any chance that they had of qualifying for the last eight have long since disappeared. On Matchday 6 group leaders Monterrey travel to Honduras to face Marathón whilst second place Saprissa go to the USA to play Seattle.

Group D saw the match of the round as the CFU Caribbean champion Puerto Rico Islanders came from behind to defeat Deportivo Toluca and overtake the Mexicans into first place. Héctor Mancilla scored twice in the first twenty three minutes of the game and it looked as though coach José Manuel de la Torre would be celebrating his team’s qualification in to the quarter-finals. Englishman David Foley started the comeback trail for the Islanders with his goal nine minutes into the second half and David Horst tied the game at 2-2 with twenty minutes still to play. In a dramatic finish it was Horst who was at hand to score his second and the Islanders’ third goal of an exciting match to seal an unlikely victory for the home team.

The final game on Matchday 6 came on Thursday night in El Salvador where Club Deportivo FAS had slim hopes of keeping their tournament alive but needed a win against Honduran side Olimpia. That task, however, proved an impossible one once Ramiro Bruschi had scored a brace to give Olimpia a 2-0 lead at the break. The visitors then went on to score twice more as they strolled to a 4-1 victory. The win takes Olimpia into first place on ten points, the Islanders two points behind whilst Toluca are a point further back. With three teams fighting it out for two spots Matchday 6 should prove very interesting as PR Islanders face up to a difficult away tie at Olimpia whilst Toluca will hope to see off the challenge of CD FAS in order to qualify for the next round.