Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Tigres UANL edges LAFC on penalty kicks to take Campeones Cup

Must read

LOS ANGELES — John McCarthy in goal. A trophy on the line. Chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!”

If you think you have heard this one before, you haven’t.

Ten months after the Los Angeles Football Club captured the MLS Cup at BMO Stadium following penalty kicks that made McCarthy the title match’s most valuable player, the backup to Maxime Crepeau again entered a do-or-die match with everything on the line.

Last November, as Crepeau sat in an ambulance having suffered a terribly broken leg, McCarthy denied each of the Philadelphia Union’s three shots.

Against Tigres UANL, McCarthy was less fortunate, conceding four goals to the Mexicans, who celebrated their second Campeones Cup victory in five years by a score of 1-0 (4-2 on penalties).

As a tense 90-minute final unfolded, the respective reigning champions of Major League Soccer and Liga MX played through difficulty, experiencing joy and strife as each team finished with 10 men on the field due to second-half red cards.

With penalties in sight late in regulation, LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo removed Crepeau for McCarthy, a noted penalty kick specialist. But there was not a second lightning strike for the Black & Gold, which dropped its second opportunity this year to win a cup against a Liga MX team at BMO Stadium.

Successful penalty shots by André-Pierre Gignac, Guido Pizarro, Jesus Angulo and the clincher from Nicolas Ibañez were enough to down LAFC, which had two penalty shots up the middle saved by veteran Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman.

LAFC scored thanks to Denis Bouanga and Ilie Sanchez, but attempts by Timothy Tillman and Ryan Hollingshead failed to deliver in front of an announced crowd of 20,605, which appeared evenly divided between home and away supporters.

For the first 45 minutes, the two sides played within themselves, minimizing risk and taking opportunities as they came.

In many ways, the first half mirrored the first portion of their 2020 encounter on a neutral field in Orlando during the CONCACAF Champions League final, which Tigres won, 2-1.

It was hard-nosed, even a bit chippy, but Canadian referee Drew Fischer let both sides play.

Tigres dominated possession two-to-one, but it didn’t come across that way as the respective champions took three shots apiece, putting one on target each way.

LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau preserved his fifth consecutive scoreless half when he leaped to deny a rocket in the 13th minute off the left foot of Luis Quiñones from 30 yards away.

Headed to an upper corner, Crepeau, starting his fourth match in a row after missing 10 months with the broken leg he suffered in the MLS Cup that earned them the right to play in Wednesday’s match, stretched to deny the Colombian striker.

Denis Bouanga took LAFC’s lone shot 25 minutes in, prompting an easy save for 37-year-old Nahuel Guzmán, a Tigres mainstay since 2014.

A pair of second-half yellow card infractions against Ecuadorian fullback Diego Palacios, called by Fischer 11 minutes apart, left LAFC a man short for the final half-hour.

The first occurred directly in front of the LAFC bench when Palacios kicked through the back of Quiñones.

The second, just outside the LAFC box, came when Palacios helped to shut down Tigres midfielder Diego Lainez, who touched the ball past center back Aaron Long at midfield and sprinted up the gut of the pitch looking to challenge Crepeau.

Tigres also went down to 10 men in the 85th minute, when Bouanga dispossessed a defender and Rafael De Souza, the last man between the French forward and the goal, fouled him for a straight red card.

Shortly before that, Bouanga appeared to put LAFC ahead 1-0 with a beautiful goal as the match hit the last quarter-hour, but it was overturned when a violation was called on defender Giorgio Chiellini, who touched the ball to himself off the restart to begin the sequence.

More to come on this story.

More articles

Latest article