Mexico controlled possession from the opening whistle, but it took them 25 minutes to find the breakthrough. That was when Hirving Lozano played in Uriel Antuna, who took the ball past the onrushing keeper and knocked it into the empty net to make it 1-0 for the visitors.
The group stage started in September, where Panama and Bermuda faced off twice, splitting the series: Panama won 4-1 away on September 5th, and then Bermuda won 2-0 away on September 8th.
Mexico is expected to roll past Bermuda, but the Gombey Warriors will hope to build on their victory against Panama with a positive result here. As for El Tri, they’ll go top of the group if they win by more than one goal, and they’ll be looking to score a lot more than that here.
The Nations League tournament involves all 41 teams in CONCACAF and features three divisions – Leagues A, B, and C – with four groups apiece. The top 10 qualifiers for the Nations League also earned spots in the 2019 Gold Cup, where they joined the six teams who already qualified as Hexagonal participants in 2018 World Cup qualifying. Starting for the 2021 Gold Cup, all teams will have to qualify through the Nations League and there will be no automatic berths given.
Mexico is in Group B of the League A tournament, along with Panama and Bermuda. Mexico will open their participation by visiting Bermuda on October 11th, after which they will host Panama on October 15th. Coach Gerardo Martino has called up 19 players for October’s games.
Monterrey won their fourth CONCACAF Champions League title with a 2-1 aggregate victory over rivals Tigres UANL. The result keeps the Rayados perfect in CCL finals – four appearances, four victories – while the universitarios are still awaiting their first regional championship.
Monterrey went into Wednesday night’s second leg with a 1-0 lead from the first leg; they added to that advantage in the 25th minute. The hosts were awarded a penalty after Rodolfo Pizarro was brought down in the box, and Nicolás Sánchez converted the spot kick to make it 1-0 on the night and 2-0 on aggregate.
The 2019 CONCACAF champion will be determined this Wednesday when rivals Monterrey and Tigres UANL face off in the decisive second leg of the final.
The Rayados picked up a 0-1 away victory in the first leg and are looking to continue their perfect record in CONCACAF finals; Monterrey has reached the final three times, and won it each time, in 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13. The universitarios, meanwhile, have twice reached the final, but have never won, finishing runner-up in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Tigres’ home-field advantage proved somewhat lacking in the first half; despite the vociferous crowd in El Volcán, the visitors dominated play. Nahuel Guzmán was repeatedly called into action to deny Monterrey the opening goal, as he made saves against Rogelio Funes Mori, Dorlan Pabón, and Rofoldo Pizarro.
The Rayados have been champions three times, in 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13, while the universitarios have twice reached the final, but have never won, finishing runner-up in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
The hosts, the only non-Mexican team to make it to this round of the tournament, had no realistic chance of overcoming a 5-0 first leg deficit, but they came out attacking as they looked to salvage some dignity. Gerso gave them an early lead – and some fleeting hope – with his 6th minute goal to make it 1-0 (1-5).
All the pressure was on the hosts in this one, who needed an early goal to give them hopes of a comeback attempt. Instead, it was the visitors who struck first, with Enner Valencia making it 0-1 (0-4 aggregate) just 11 minutes into the match as he rounded the keeper and sent the ball into the empty net.
First Leg Results
Tigres UANL 3-0 Santos Laguna
Monterrey 5-0 Sporting Kansas City
The semifinals are a total goals, aggregate score series; away goals are tiebreakers. If both the aggregate and away goals are tied at the end of the second leg, the winner will be determined by a penalty shootout.
Will there be a Clásico Regio in the CONCACAF final, or can Santos and/or Kansas City pull off a comeback for the ages?