Vancouver knocked out the Red Bulls 2-0 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate to join FC Dallas as the MLS teams in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League semifinals. Alphonso Davies scored in the 5th minute at BC Place with Fredy Montero doubling the lead in the 76th. Vancouver now faces Tigres over two legs.
The other half of the bracket has FC Dallas playing Pachuca, once again meaning success for MLS means beating Liga MX. On the upside for both MLS teams, early season beats preseason in terms of game sharpness. That wasn’t an issue in an all-MLS quarterfinal, but the second-leg of the Dallas vs Arabe Unido series showed the danger in assuming anything at this level. Though the series wasn’t in doubt following a 4-0 shutout in Frisco, Dallas gave up two late goals in the second-leg. The second-leg in the semifinals is at Pachuca, who followed a 0-0 draw at Saprissa with a 4-0 shutout to advance. Pachuca is the 3rd-place team in Liga MX, two points behind Tijuana.
Is there reason for MLS optimism in the Champions League? Maybe. Tigres knocked out UNAM Pumas, but these aren’t the heavyweights from the Clausura. Tigres is in 15th-place after eight rounds. We don’t know how good te 2017 version of Vancouver is in MLS play, but they’ve rebuilt while spending money. Dallas is the story MLS wants to tell these days, built around its academy model and playing a style that was tough to break down last season.
That’s the best news for MLS in another round vs Liga MX. Putting a team in the final might only postpone the same old story. Putting both teams in the final? It’s hard to say stranger things have happened in the CONCACAF Champions League when business as usual means a Liga MX team playing for the trophy.
Sky Sports’ Andrew Dickson talks to Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra. FC Yahoo’s Leander Schaerlaeckens profiles Philadelphia goalkeeper Andre Blake. American Soccer Now’s Brian Sciaretta talks to DC United midfielder Ian Harkes. The Oregonian’s Jamie Goldberg has Portland moving forward with a $50m stadium expansion.
The Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson sees a pattern from what happened with Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City. BBC Sport reports on an amateur referee strike in England over abuse. Reuters’ Brian Homewood reports on a Transparency International survey that doesn’t place a lot of confidence in FIFA.
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