SuperLiga Final Live Blog: LA Galaxy vs. CF Pachuca
Posted by Mike on August 29, 2007
Tonight, the LA Galaxy play Mexican club CF Pachuca in the finals of the inaugural SuperLiga and a $1 million prize. For the Galaxy, it could be their only chance at hardware this year. This made their decision to play Beckham and Landon Donovan substantial minutes last week against Chivas USA, after they both played international games the day before, all the more puzzling. I thought that they would be saving these guys for their best shot at a title. Hopefully, they will play long enough to have an impact. Meanwhile, Pachuca has Brian Ching and Joseph Ngwenya to thank for their entrance into this game, as the two Houston Dynamo players absolutely botched their penalty kicks in their loss to the Mexican side two weeks ago.
As always, we’ll be joined by our good friends Pablo Ramirez and Jesus Bracamontes for this game on Telefutura.
11:06 pm: The game is about to begin. It looks like the Galaxy will have their full lineup on the field. Beckham, Donovan, Carlos Pavon and Abel Xavier are all starting.
11:07, 1st minute: The crowd is a lot bigger (and louder) for this game than in LA’s semifinal against DC United, which is a good sign. A much improved showing by Galaxy fans.
11:09, 3rd minute: Pavon tries the bicycle kick early. Ballsy, but he swings and misses.
I stand corrected. A lot of the fans out tonight seem to be Pachuca supporters. But it still beats the hell out of the semifinal at the Home Depot Center.
11:13, 6th minute: Pachuca are controlling the game early, holding the ball more than 60% of the time and getting all of the decent scoring chances so far. If you have a hard time figuring out which team is Pachuca, they’re the eleven walking billboards. Seriously, what’s with the 10 different sponsors on their jerseys?
11:15, 8th minute: Landon gets the first real scoring chance for LA, receiving a good pass in the box. His header is way too high, though.
11:17, 10th minute: Regardles of your opinion on Mexican teams vs. MLS, one this is undeniable: the Mexican players have much better hair. Although, Chris Berman’s combover looks better than whatever Abel Xavier is sporting on his head right now, so my view might be skewed.
11:21, 14th minute: Pachuca is definitely more mobile, taking advantage of La’s midfield just hovering around. The Galaxy don’t seem completely in this game yet.
11:23, 16th minute: Pachua gets a free kick, and Julio Manzur very nearly kicks it in. No one is able to deflect, and the shot unexpectedly heads straight for the goal. Joe Cannon is forced to make the first real save of the game.
11:25, 18th minute: David Beckham just did something that any American football fan can appreciate: he delivered a decleater, sending a Pachuca midfielder to the turf, without getting carded.
11:28, 21st minute: David Beckham sets up a potentially great shot for Landon Donovan, but he instead tries to pas it to Carlos Pavon and gives the ball away.
11:29, 22nd minute: Less than a minute later, Pachuca gets their own breakaway scoring chance, but a Galaxy defender blocks the shot, and Cannon grabs the ensuing corner kick.
11:31, 24th minute: I noticed a lot of empty seats around the SuperLiga sign behind one of the goals. Is that by design, or could they not fill those seats? I think it’s both.
11:33, 26th minute: Chris Klein, what the hell was that? Kyle Martino and Beckham set you up almost perfectly on the right side, and you sail the cross over everyone’s heads.
11:35, 28th minute: AUTO-GOL! Pachuca had been knocking on the door for the entire first half, and one of their attacks finally pays off. Some crisp passing puts Cannon completely out of position, a pass goes right across the front of the goal, and midfielder Peter Vagenas, trying to clear the ball, instead kicks it into his own net.
11:38, 31st minute: This is exactly what the Galaxy (and the MLS) didn’t want to happen. Beckham goes after a loose ball, slides directly into an opposing player’s foot, falls to the ground, and he has to (at least temporarily) come out of the game. A nightmare for LA’s chances.
11:41, 34th minute: They aren’t taking any chances: Beckham is out of the game, and he’s not happy about it. In comes Alan Gordon to a chorus of boos at the HDC.
11:43, 36th minute: Xavier stops a Pachuca scoring chance with his face. Looks like it’s good for something after all.
11:44, 37th minute: Believe it or not, the Galaxy seem to be more aggressive on offensive in Beckham’s absence tonight.
Speaking of which, David is either is some serious pain, or he’s very upset not to be in the game right now.
11:45, 38th minute: OH! Juan Carlos Cacho and Damian Alvarez completely faked out the LA defense on that play, and Alvarez had a wide open shot, one-on one with a keeper out of position. But he kicks the ball wide right.
11:48, 41st minute: I think it’s safe to say that La needs to get some good defenders in the offseason. The Pachuca offense have out played them in every aspect. What’s shocking is that this game would still be tied if not for that Auto-gol.
11:50, 43rd minute: The defense gets beat again, and it takes a great save by Cannon to keep the ball out of the goal by one inch.
11:54, 45 minutes: We’ve reached halftime, and Pachuca leads 1-0 off of the own goal in the 28th minute. MLS’s nightmare came true, and Beckham’s night ended before it could begin. Obviously, the Galaxy need to tighten up on defense, but the way they’re being outplayed in this game, to win they need one helluva halftime speech. That, or for Pachuca to make some mistakes at the right time.
12:11, 46th minute: The second half begins. Something I forgot to add: the Galaxy need to do a better job of creating scoring chances. Miguel Calero has yet to be challenged tonight.
12:14, 49th minute: Landon Donovan is taking free kicks in Beckham’s absence. So far, he’s had little luck against the Pachuca defense.
12;16, 51st minute: Calero just took a pass from one of his teammates, with a Galaxy player chasing the ball. I was kind of hoping the he would make a Jens Lehmann-like blunder.
Cobi Jones is about to enter the game.
12:18, 53rd minute: Finally, some good Galaxy defense, courtesy of Chris Klein.
Cobu Jones is coming into the game, replacing Carlos Pavon. This is a puzzling move considering that Pavon is their biggest scoring threat. Then again, he hasn’t really done anything tonight, and maybe a change is good.
12:20, 55th minute: Whoa. My voodoo Lehmann comment nearly came to fruitition, as Calero mishandled a seemingly easy save, and Alan Gordon was half a step away from making him pay. But he finally gets control of the ball and clears it out of the zone.
12:22, 57th minute: Landon Donovan is fouled hard just outside the box, drawing a yellow card and setting up a very makeable free kick. The kick makes it past the wall, but Calero is there to make the diving save on his right side.
12;23, 58th minute: Donovan does a bit of acting inside the box. he’s touched, but he exaggerates it a bit. He wants the penalty kick, but the ref won’t bite.
12;26, 61st minute: Christian Gimenez had Cannon beat, but he loses his footing before he can take a good shot, and the Galaxy eventually manage to clear the ball.
Less than half an hour to go, and LA is running out of chances. A lot can still happen, but the Galaxy need to act quickly.
12:29, 64th minute: That was by far LA’s best scoring chance yet. Chris Klein’s perfect cross connects with Landon’s head in the box, and only Calero’s outstretched fingertips prevent a goal.
12:30, 65th minute: Since the Cobi Jones substitution, the Galaxy are now the agressors, and have completely shifted momentum. One minute later, they get another shot on goal. More importantly, it looks like Calero is hurt. Pachuca needing to throw an inexperienced keeper into the fire or deal with their injured one could be just the advantage that LA needs. They have less than 25 minutes to act on that advantage, however.
12:34, 69th minute: Everything seems to be going LA’s way right now. Everything, that is, except for a goal. Alan Gordon receives a great pass in front of the goal, but his header is just blocked by Calero in front of him. Six inches higher, and the ball goes in the net between the keeper’s arms.
12:37, 72nd minute: Just as the Galaxy are coming back in this game, Pachuca and Cacho come with a few inches of putting it away. Cacho had Cannon completely beat, and only a sliding Troy Roberts prevented a 2-0 deficit and in essence the one that would have put LA away.
12:41, 76th minute: Pachuca finally has possession of the ball in the second half, and now they’re milking it for all it’s worth. Can’t say that I blame them.
12:42, 77th minute: Another chance to put the game away, this time for Rafael Marquez Lugo (in for Cacho), but he hits it wide of the almost open goal.
If Pachuca allow the Galaxy back in this game and lose, they have no one to blame but themselves. They’ve had more than their fair chances to to get the knockout.
12:44, 79th minute: Edson Buddle comes in for the Galaxy, replacing Kyle Martino.
12:47, 82nd minute: Marquez has another chance to put the game away for Pachuca, hitting the ball at the goal about as hard as he possibly can. But Joe Cannon makes the spectacular save to extend the game for now. The Galaxy have less than ten minutes to deliver the equalizer. Can they finally get one past Calero, whose play has been stellar in the second half?
12:50, 85th minute: Donovan draws a free kick, to the delight of Abel Xavier wig-wearing fans in the stands (ha!). A good free kick into the box, but Calero manages to clear it out with his fist.
Less than five minutes in regulation.
12:52, 87th minute: OH! Landon Donovan ends up with a near perfect shot at goal, and his accurate shot manages, after a deflection, manages to roll past the keeper, and out of bounds, three inches away from goal. Can these guys please catch a break?
12:54, 89th minute: Really bad timing for a full screen graphic, Telefutura.
12:55, 90th minute: All the Galaxy have left is 4 minutes of extra time, still down 1-0.
12:57, 92nd minute: Predictably, Pachuca uses the stoppage time to make a final sub and take up a big chunk of the remaining time.
12:58, 93rd minute: GOOOOLLLAAAAAAZZOOO!!! At first, I thought it it would be absolute heartbreak, as Edson Buddle’s open header hit the crossbar. But the Galaxy get another chance, and
Gordon Chris Klein doesn’t disappoint, netting the equalizer in a spectacular bicycle kick. Miguel Calero had no chance. The game is tied, 1-1! WHOOOOOO!!!
1:00, Full Time: Regulation is over, we’re tied at 1-1, and the game is going to overtime! It has been a great game so far. The LA Galaxy did a great job of turning things around in the second half, and for extra time the momentum is completely in their favor.
We’re playing 30 more minutes. I definitely don’t mind staying up late for this.
1:07, 91st minute: Extra time has begun. LA Galaxy has the momentum, but might Pachuca have more energy left in the tank?
1:10, 94th minute: No matter who wins this game, I think that the SuperLiga has been and will be a big success for MLS. Hopefully it will get more coverage in the future.
1:11, 95th minute: Pachuca makes the first threat in extra time. They make it into the box, but the shot goes just wide of goal.
1:12, 96th minute: It’s very late in the game, but the fans in the HDC are the loudest that they’ve been all night.
1:14, 98th minute: Landon Donovan couldn;t make anything happen out of that corner kick. The Galaxy have yet to get a real chance in extra time.
1:15, 99th minute: The Galaxy deflect a cross from the left side, but Abel Xavier very nearly commits a second auto-gol. Fortunately Joe Cannon is there to make the stop…barely.
1:17, 101st minute: LA kind of got away with an “armball” on that free kick block. Nothing becomes of it, however.
Beckham is on the bench in a suit, cheering his team on. And you know what? He looks a lot like a coach out there. As a matter of fact, he might make a better coach than Frank Yallop. Wait…oh god no. I shouldn’t be giving Alexi Lalas any bad ideas.
1:22, 105 minutes: The first period of extra time is over, and we’re not getting any closer to determining this game. The game is tied at 1-1, and neither team seems to have a particular advantage.
1:25, 108th minute: One complaint about this game: those guys with the sound dishes on the sidelines look really, really awkward by themselves out there.
1:26, 109th minute: LA gets a corner kick, but nothing becomes of it.
1:27, 110th minute: The Galaxy are almost unable to clear the header off of Pachuca’s corner kick. It would have been almost sad if they ended up losing that way. Fortunately, they manage to clear.
1:29, 112th minute: Mike Randolph falls asleep at the wheel, and he almost pays dearly for it. if not for his speed (and foul), Pachuca would have had a breakaway.
1:30, 113th minute: Edson Buddle breaks away from the Pachuca defense, but Leobardo Lopez’s last-second slide prevents him from taking a good shot. On the ensuing corner kick, LA has a couple of chances at glancing headers, but the players jump a bit too far in front of the kick, and miss completely.
1:33, 116th minute: Kevin Harmse has to come out of the game, getting a hamstring injury on that corner kick. In to replace him is Haitian Galvin Glinton.
1:34, 117th minute: Pachuca’s Luis Gabriel Rey takes a long distance shot at goal. It’s a hard shot, but is goes just wide curving to the outside. Less than five minutes before penalty kicks.
1:36, 119th minute: A Pachuca player has also succumbed to injury. The problem is that they’ve already used their final substitution. With penalty kicks looming, however, it’s unlikely to change their strategy.
1:39, 120th minute: Pachuca mounts one final charge at goal, but Cannon makes a save. Time runs out, we’re tied at 1-1, and we’re going to penalty kicks!
1:42: They had better play the penalty kicks at the goal where all the fans are. If they do it in front of the empty seats, it would look insanely bad.
Phew. They’ll play at the crowded goal.
1:44: Pachuca will kick first, and it’s Rafael Marquez Lugo against Joe Cannon.
Marquez makes it look easy in his attempt. Now it’s Vagenas’ turn for LA.
Calero makes the save! A great stop, and Pachuca leads 1-0 in penalties.
1:47: Joe Cannon guesses wrong, and Rey makes it look easy.
Cobi Jones makes his kick, and Pachuca now leads 2-1 in penalties.
1:48: Third penalty kicks. Joe Cannon makes the kick save! Now it’s Klein’s chance to equalize.
Klein fires a bullet into the back of the net, and it’s 2-2 in penalties.
1:50: Manzur makes his penalty kick with relative ease.
Edson Buddle follws suit, hitting the top left corner. 3-3 in penalties, with just one left, then sudden death.
1:51: Pachuca hits the crossbar! And now Landon Donovan has the entire tournament resting on his leg.
Calero makes the save! It wasn’t a very good kick, but way for Miguel to step up. 3-3 in penalties.
1:53: Rodriguez makes his kick, and now it’s up to Abel Xavier.
Xavier misses, and Pachuca wins the SuperLiga, 1-1 (4-3 on penalties). Xavier absolutely shanked that one.
Pachuca are the champions of SuperLiga.
A great performance by both teams, but the MVP of the game has to be Miguel Calero. he saved his team too many times to count tonight, and even in the end he made two saves in the penalty stages (although some might think that Landon choked. I don’t think so, but he could have made a better shot.)
Overall, it was a fantastic game and a fantastic tournament. Congratulations again to Pachuca, winner of SuperLiga 2007. It was a lot of fun to watch, and I think that the tournament has a very bright future. I will eagerly await its return next summer, as the rivalry between Mexican and American teams will only get better.