Salt Lake grabs late draw in CONCACAF final
Javier Morales scored an 89th-minute equalizer to give Real Salt
Lake a 2-2 draw at Monterrey in the first leg of the CONCACAF
Champions League final Wednesday.
Aldo De Nigris opened the scoring for Monterrey in the 18th
minute, before Nat Borchers headed an equalizer in the 35th for
Salt Lake, which is bidding to become the first U.S. club to win
the continental title since the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2000.
Suazo put Monterrey ahead again from the penalty spot on the
hour, but Morales leveled with a diagonal drive just before the
The draw made MLS teams 0-21-4 in competitive matches in
But the two away goals put Salt Lake in a positive position
ahead of the return leg in Utah next Wednesday.
Salt Lake would be crowned champions with a home win or by
holding Monterrey to a 0-0 or 1-1 draw. Monterrey must win or draw
3-3 (or by a higher total) to take the title. A 2-2 draw would lead
to extra time and the possibility of penalties.
Victory would also make Salt Lake the first American team to
play in the Club World Cup, a December tournament played against
the other continental champions including the European Champions
League winner and South America’s Copa Libertadores holder.
Monterrey enjoyed the best of the early chances with Humberto
Suazo’s shot from the edge of the area forcing Salt Lake goalkeeper
Nick Rimando into a flying save to tip the ball over the bar in the
The early pressure paid off when Monterrey’s full back Sergio
Perez joined the attack on the right and forced the ball across
goal for De Nigris to finish.
De Nigris and captain Luis Perez were forced off with injuries
in the 22nd minute, but Monterrey kept pushing and Suazo brought
another diving save out of Rimando with a low curling shot in the
Despite the sluggish start, Salt Lake began to move the ball
with greater precision and the equalizer came from a high ball into
the box – a traditional weak spot of Mexican teams often exploited
by more athletic American sides.
Will Johnson lifted a cross toward the penalty spot and Nat
Borchers beat two defenders to the ball to head past goalie
Monterrey regrouped after the break and controlled possession in
the Salt Lake half. Neri Cardozo almost put the home side in front
after breaking onto an Osvaldo Martinez pass at the 60-minute mark,
but Jamison Olave diverted behind.
Two minutes later, Cardozo’s run and cross down the left was
handled by a Salt Lake defender and Suazo sent the penalty into the
Nonetheless, Monterrey’s inconsistent form since winning the
Mexican league title in December resurfaced in the final
Salt Lake’s Argentine striker Morales collected the ball on the
edge of the box and cut inside Jose Basanta before unleashing a
shot across Orozco that nestled in the corner.