They were five, they are now only two. In an obviously questionable competition on the board when virtually all of the giants – be they MLS or Liga MX – are on the same side, it was obvious there would be heavy skimming and Mexico’s hopes in particular would be quickly dashed. heartbroken. And when the best teams in the league have failed, those hopes are even dimmer. Those who failed were Deportivo Toluca and América . Opposed to Minnesota United and Nashville respectively , two of the contenders for the crown had nights where emotions rode the roller coaster.
For the Diablos Rojos , everything started as a nightmare. Toluca had the ball, generated the first situations, but were trapped by a goal from Joseph Rosales well served by Bebelo Reynoso. Inexplicably, this goal stunned Toluca who thwarted and suffered a second blow, Hlongwane’s goal on the half hour mark. The affair seemed settled, especially as the South African striker was deprived of a brace for an offside. The action woke up the Diablos Rojoswho took control of the environment and the match. Valber Huera reduced the gap, nine minutes later, Dotson was at fault on Marcel Ruiz, saw red, and Tiago Volpi equalized from the penalty spot. We thought then that logic would be respected, that Toluca would snatch victory. But it was nothing. Despite the numerical superiority, Toluca failed to prevent the penalty shootout, the one that eliminated him.
The sanction was therefore the same for America , a defeat on penalties. With an even more cruel feeling for the Águilas . Faced with Nashville , the Cup team par excellence, America first stumbled during a first half without much relief and then launched a huge chase. Walker Zimmerman ideally launched the second act with a powerful whim at the hour mark and also woke up André Jardine’s men.
America _pushed, even if it meant exposing himself, but equalized at the start of the last quarter of an hour, well helped in particular by the entry of Diego Valdés, and thought he was doing the hardest part at the very end of the game, the one that saw the meeting tip over in madness. First there was the penalty conceded in the 89th minute for a handball in the box.
The VAR intervened and after five minutes, Julián Quiñones transformed the sentence and offered what was thought to be victory to the eagles of Coapa. Except that… the five-minute additional time then began and on the very last action (99 thminute), a perfect cross from Hany Mukhtar found the head of a Sam Surridge who thus caught up with a huge miss and snatched a penalty shootout on the wire. It tipped even further into the improbable when Luis Malagón released Jack Maher’s last attempt and sent the Águilas into the quarter-finals.
Until the VAR intervenes again. The slow motion was formal, the America goalkeeper was no longer on his line during the stoppage, the penalty was to be withdrawn. Forgotten the celebrations, it was necessary to resume. Maher scored on his second try, Jonathan Dos Sants missed his a few moments later, Daniel Lovitz could then conclude, Nashville is in the quarters, America is depressed.
The Liga MX will therefore now only have two representatives. First of the two, the most unexpected, Querétaro , author of the perfect shot against New England . Faced with Revs who have to manage rather lively backstage, the Gallos Blancos sometimes got hot, like on the head of DeJuan Jones on the bar, the only big emotion of the first act, and knew how to strike at the best of times, on the first action of the second act and a cross very badly appreciated by Đorđe Petrović.
New Englandthen had all the trouble to be dangerous, often exposed to a second goal, Petrović creating two huge chances for Camilo Sanvezzo and Omar Mendoza, but managed to come back at the start of the last quarter of an hour . Deprived of playing master Carles Gil and striker Gustavo Bou, New England was somewhat sluggish but could still have snatched an almost unexpected qualification when the ball flew past Vrioni on the last action of the match. It was therefore nothing and Querétaro took out one of the MLS candidates on penalties, continuing his incredible epic. The Gallos Blancos will accompany the Rayados in the quarters, another last Mexican hope.
The men of TanoOrtiz won the 132nd edition of the Clásico Regio , a lively and rhythmic edition that saw the Rayados secure the first good situations of the match, leaving only a few crumbs to the local rival saved by an excellent Nahuel Guzmán during the first act. The two teams also created a few situations in the second period, but the meeting seemed destined to end on penalties. Until the fault of Javier Aquino on Avi Ávila. We then played the 91st minute , the VAR confirmed the sanction, Sergio Canales transformed the sentence to send the Rayados to the quarters. Rayados who will face LAFCwho completely crushed a Real Salt Lake quickly amputated of its conductor, Pablo Ruiz, even if the Black and Gold had to wait for the second act to widen the gap.
There will therefore be only two representatives of Liga MX out of the last eight contenders for the title. A Liga MX which prefers to switch to conspiracy theory. We have thus already seen a few articles springing up claiming an advantage given to MLS teams by the referees (some examples make you smile, we think of Julián Quiñones’ offside which nevertheless appears perfectly in slow motion or that of Brandon Vázquez against to Chivas on the 3-1, the angle chosen by the plaintiffs suggesting that it was ultimately not). And if we will not fall into this debate of supporters, who always feel aggrieved when their team loses – even if it means forgetting, for example, that the Atlas won over City after an arbitration error in its favour, that theRayados have benefited from two errors in their favor against the Sounders – above all, Liga MX will have to look at the state of their local football since the pandemic and the consequences of the dramatic decisions they have taken rather than tipping into the denial and conspiracy.
Because in the end, while she is going to resume her championship sooner than expected after the catastrophic results of her family (who, contrary to what some would have you believe, played the competition thoroughly), the only audible argument on their part is that logistics, with Mexican clubs having covered more than double the miles than MLS clubs – although the team most affected by this is Monterrey, yet qualified for the quarters. This parameter, the leaders of the Liga MX knew it before the start of the competition. It already existed in previous editions where the Mexicans were more efficient. Perhaps a path to follow for these same leaders will now be to focus on football rather than what it brings in…
Anyway, the Rayados are still favorites even if the quarter-final offered to them is the toughest of all with a clash in Los Angeles against LAFC . This is undoubtedly the limit of this formula, the first with all the clubs, which will have to be improved. Because on the other side of the table, Inter Miami , the worst team in MLS, faces absolutely no cador from one of the two leagues.
On the menu of the band to Messi, who showed his limits against a much better team like Dallas, snatching the qualification on the wire while the Texans could / should have won much more widely if they had been more skilful, the easiest quarter-final on paper against a Charlotte team which remains on three losses and two draws on the road in MLS and flirts with the last places in its conference. Things could tend in the event of a semi-final if Philadelphia enforces its rank against Querétaro . The final quarter-final will also be 100% MLS, featuring Mexican giants Nashville and Minnesota .