Action from the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League semifinal, first-leg encounter between host FC Dallas (red jersey) and Pachuca on March 15, 2017, in Frisco, Texas, USA. (Photo: Mexsport)
We're two games away from determining who will appear in the ninth Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League final. Before the semifinal, second-leg encounters get underway on Tuesday, let's look back at how we got here.
Tigres 2, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 0: Tigres took a big step toward becoming the fifth team to reach consecutive SCCL semifinals with its first-leg victory. Visiting Whitecaps FC defended resolutely for the first hour, but UANL broke through thanks to Kendall Waston’s own-goal in the 66th-minute. Eduardo Vargas doubled the lead three minutes from time with his second goal of the tournament.
FC Dallas 2, Pachuca 1: After Franco Jara gave Pachuca a 1-0 lead in the third minute, Maximiliano Urruti scored his fourth career SCCL goal (and first with FC Dallas) to equalize before halftime. In the 58th minute, Kellyn Acosta completed the comeback with a swerving free kick in the 58th minute.
Kellyn Acosta, FC Dallas (58’ v Pachuca: Acosta scored his third SCCL goal in a FC Dallas shirt to take the all-time club lead and help secure a first-leg victory. Urruti won a free kick about 25-yards out from goal. Acosta stepped up and curled a right-footer over Pachuca’s defensive wall, before it dipped narrowly under the crossbar and beyond goalkeeper Alfonso Blanco’s reach.
Franco Jara, Pachuca (3’ v FC Dallas): Jara put the visitor ahead with his fourth goal of the tournament before many at Toyota Stadium had even found their seats. Erick Aguirre brilliantly squeezed between his defender and the byline on the left side of the penalty area and dragged a cross back to Jara, whose first-time shot struck the inside of the left post on its way in.
Eduardo Vargas, Tigres (87’ v Vancouver Whitecaps FC): Vargas’ second goal of the tournament came off a fortuitous bounce, when he was in the right place to lash a rebound attempt after Jurgen Damm’s initial blocked shot. It was still an impressive strike, taken out of the air and dispatched neatly into the lower corner to double Tigres’ lead.
David Ousted, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (70’ v Tigres): Ousted nearly helped the Whitecaps escape the Estadio Universitario with just a one-goal deficit. A string of impressive second-half stops was highlighted by one just four minutes after Tigres went ahead, when he stretched to his right to deny Luis Quinones’ one-time half volley off Damm’s cross.
Alfonso Blanco, Pachuca (48’ v FC Dallas): Acosta might’ve scored even earlier when she snapped in a first-time shot of Maynor Figueroa’s cross. But Blanco got his right hand to the ground in time to deny an effort that came in at a somewhat awkward angle, before Cristian Colman’s rebound attempt was disallowed for offsides. It was his only save of the night.
Chris Seitz, FC Dallas (90’+3 v Pachuca): Seitz needed two saves to preserve FC Dallas’ first-ever SCCL semifinal win. He had to be alert in second-half stoppage time, arching back to push Braian Rodriguez’s looping header over the crossbar after Rodriguez was first to reach Urretaviscaya’s long free kick from the left.
Brek Shea, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (60’ v Tigres): Against the run of play, Shea found himself in a promising position inside the penalty area, with only goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman to beat. But a heavy touch took him too wide, and then Shea fell to ground without making contact with Guzman, giving referee Oscar Moncada no choice but to issue a yellow card for simulation.
Nicolas Mezquida, Vancouver Whitecaps (78’ v TIGRES): Vancouver didn’t create many chances in their first leg, but Mezquida had a precious opportunity to score a crucial away goal that would’ve leveled the score 1-1 at the time. Instead, he dragged his low shot from the left side of the penalty area just inches wide of the right post.
Franco Jara, Pachuca (20’ v FC Dallas): After already giving the visitor an early lead, Jara looked to be in alone on goal again after touching the ball over defender Walker Zimmerman. Referee John Pitti, however, blew for dangerous play because of Jara’s raised boot, taking away what would’ve been a breakaway chance to double the visitor’s lead.
ONE LAST THING
With both semifinal series still very much in the balance, there is a possibility of a seventh SCCL final between two Mexican teams, a second SCCL final between Mexican and U.S. teams, a second SCCL final between Mexican and Canadian teams, or a first SCCL final between Canadian and U.S. sides.