Nov 30, 2007

Defensive Blunders Cost Club America First Leg Of Copa Sudamericana Final

Uncharacteristically sloppy defending cost Club America a game they couldn't afford to lose, as Arsenal de Sarandi stormed back twice from a goal down to take the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final at Estadio Azteca. Lapses of various types played central roles in all three Arsenal goals, with America's normally standout goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa even doing his part on the first. Ochoa stuck to his line on a cross and was then left no chance on Anibal Matellan's header.

The highlight of the game was unquestionably a Golazo by America midfielder Alejandro Arguello shortly after halftime. Arguello's brilliant strike into the upper 90 was truly something to behold and I will suggest scouring the Web to find a clip. I'll actually do so myself and update this post with the link.

America drew blood first after only five minutes and appeared in firm control of the game for about 20 minutes. But Arsenal held their ground and had I felt evened things out when Matellan headed in the equalizer. After Arguello put the Aguillas up again at 50 minutes, his teammates on the back line were so impressed, three of them misplayed (or plain missed) a bouncing ball that Alejandro Gomez collected and fired past Ochoa. Ten minutes later Gomez completed his brace after another brainfart by the America defenders.

Ultimately, the game was undone by shifty refereeing, rough play and obscure decisions--none more ridiculous than Arsenal captain Carlos Castiglione's apparent refusal to leave the pitch after receiving a red card 10 minutes from time. The incriminating incident occurred outside the run of play and apparently off-camera (I can't remember seeing any replays). The ref sent Castiglione off after consulting with one of the linesman. When he finally left the field, the Argentine was shown bitching out the fourth official. And I thought disrespecting authority was unique to the U.S.?

Needless to say America faces an uphill battle if they want to become the third Mexican team in a row to win the coveted trophy. But they've won on hostile ground before--most recently at Bogota in their semifinal match-up with Millonarios. No reason they can't do it again. The return leg will be played Wednesday.

No comments:

Post a Comment