Oct 24, 2007

Meanwhile, In The Copa Sudamericana...

With the flurry of activity in Europe these past days, it was easy to overlook the Copa Sudamericana, where two quarterfinals wrapped up today. Of course, many if not most pundits in North America and Europe didn't overlook the Copa, they didn't know it was happening in the first place! (Judging by the sparse crowd at Vasco da Gama's home grounds, neither did many from points further south. Can you imagine the second leg of a UEFA Cup game not being sold out?) For a primer on where things stood entering today, read this earlier post.

The first quarterfinal pitted Mexico City's America against the aforementioned Vasco da Gama. America held a 2-0 lead from the first leg but Vasco cut that in half after only 11 minutes. Roughly 65 minutes into the match, viewers were treated to a rare treat: an appearance by Romario (yes that Romario) who substituted himself into the game for the Rio de Janeiro side (Romario, you see, was named the team's player coach earlier this week). Romario had a free header five minutes after entering the match, but he missed badly. Actually, Vasco had several chances to send this game into overtime. Earlier in the second half, a ball was cleared off the line by a Mexican defender and there were several times that they were one pass away from having a clean shot at goal but couldn't get it done. The Mexican defenders always seemed to get in the way at the last minute, or Vasco were done in by their own incompetence. It was not a well played game by either side (plus it looked like it was raining and the pitch was in very poor shape) but America were more organized and better disciplined and deserved to advance. In the semis, America will play either Chivas or Argentina's Arsenal (probably the former, who managed a scoreless draw in the first leg and host the game in Guadelajara tomorrow).

The other semifinal was a bit of a surprise, as Bogota, Colombia's Millionarios beat Sao Paulo 2-0 on a brace by Ricardo Ciciliano, a 31 year old midfielder who played his entire career in the Colombian league. Millionarios didn't need the win, however, as they carried a 1-0 lead from the first leg in Brazil. The Bogota side will face either River Plate or Uruguay's Defensor Sporting. Due to some scheduling quirk (this is Latin America, after all) those two teams have not yet played the first leg--that happens tomorrow at Montevideo, with the return leg five days later at El Monumental.

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