If you missed the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League qualifiers last night on Fox Sports World Canada, both MLS teams advanced with wins over Central American opponents.
The first game was the second leg of the quarterfinal series featuring DC United and CD Olimpia of Honduras. The game was a sloppy affair, played on a very wet surface at RFK Stadium in Washington DC. The once always pristine grass turf at RFK looked terrible. DC United won the first match 4-1 in Honduras, leaving Olimpia with an enormous task of winning by a large score away from home. With the 3-2 win, United advances with an aggregate of 7-3. While DC United is still technically in pre-season, their defensive group looked shaky last night in my opinion. Argentinian Christian Gomez proved his worth last night with terrific play in midfield. Luciano Emilio, United's new Brazilian signing looked very good as well. DC United had starting keeper Troy Perkins go down with an injury, and was replaced by backup Jay Nolly.
In the later game from College Station Texas, the MLS Champion Houston Dynamo defeated Puntaneras of Costa Rica 2-0. Houston advanced on aggregate after losing 1-0 away in Costa Rica last week. With a wonderful field, and what looked to be perfect weather conditions, this game was generally of a higher standard than the DC game from earlier in the evening. The rust, and lack of conditioning with some of the Houston players was very much evident however - which is natural given it is still pre-season. I thought the forward partnership of Venezuelan Alejandro Moreno and Paul Daglish of Scotland looked good. Toronto native Dwayne de Rosario went down late with some sort of leg injury, and didn't finish. Canadian keeper Pat Onstad was out hurt with an injury. The match was played at a small university soccer stadium outside of Houston. On a side note, it was interesting to see local soccer teams practicing on adjoining fields outside the stadium, while such an important fixture was being played just meters away. Goes to show that soccer participation does not necessarily translate to soccer spectator interest.
Interesting that DC United will go on to play Chivas of Guadalajara, and Houston will play Pachuca in the semi final round, as all four teams will participate in the Superliga later in the year.