Club soccer is back in full swing on the heels of the second international break of the season, and there were plenty of storylines to digest, both within the region and across the pond.
Christian Pulisic altered the game for the better as a substitute in Chelsea’s 1-0 win following a rough week for the U.S., while Raúl Jiménez converted a penalty to salvage a point against Southampton.
There were several other Concacafers to make waves in Europe, but the latest installment of “Concaclusions” highlights the chaos — albeit in very different forms — on display in the region’s top leagues over the last few days.
New MLS Playoff format delivers on opening weekend
It may not be the most ideal structure for crowning the best team over the course of a season, but the new single-elimination MLS postseason brought unprecedented drama on the opening weekend. Home teams are rewarded for their work in the regular season by hosting, and no longer can teams play conservatively from the outset or manage the run of play with the knowledge they can compensate for any lost ground in a return leg.
The opening six fixtures resulted in a whopping TWENTY-SEVEN goals. Yes, you read that correctly. Franco Escobar continued his playoff heroics for Atlanta in a 1-0 over the New England Revolution in the only game in which a team failed to find the back of the net. Out west, Seattle and Dallas shook things up with an enthralling 4-3 extra time result with the men in green coming out on top thanks in large part to a Jordan Morris hat trick.
Putting on a show for his hometown club. 🍿 pic.twitter.com/1yhx2oJfGf— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) October 21, 2019
Two other battles needed more than regulation to settle the score, as Toronto exploded in extra time to top D.C. United 5-1 and Philadelphia topped the New York Red Bulls in yet another 4-3 thriller. Jefferson Savarino propelled Real Salt Late to the next round with his 87th-minute winner in a 2-1 win over Portland, and the LA Galaxy became the only team to win on the road as they held off Minnesota United’s comeback effort after Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos got on the scoresheet.
Hungry for more action? Never fear, because the postseason kicks back up in midweek and is capped off by what is sure to be another blockbuster 'El Trafico' in the City of Angels. Buckle your seatbelts.
Liga MX makes headlines for all the wrong reasons
South of the border, there was a much different flavor of uncertainty and disorder. Dorados home match against Atlante was suspended due to the violence in Culiacán, Veracruz players staged a mid-match protest that ended in a lopsided loss to Tigres, and San Luis-Queretaro was suspended due to violence in the stands. Not exactly the best week for Mexico’s top flight.
It’s no secret by now that Veracruz are a club in complete disarray on and off the field, and the latest twist came when reports surfaced during the week that Veracruz would refuse to suit up for their bout with heavyweights Tigres due to unpaid wages stretching over several months. Nevertheless, the players showed up for business as usual — only if “business as usual” entailed not moving during the opening minutes of the affair. The Veracruz players were indeed ready to carry out a protest, and they did so by not playing after the official blew the opening whistle
According to post-match statements, there was a misunderstanding between the two clubs with regard to how long the protest was supposed to last. Tigres began moving the ball around and put two past Veracruz ‘keeper Sebastian Jurado in a hurry, and the Tuca Ferretti’s men ended up catching no shortage of flack following the 3-1 result. Veracruz owner Fidel Kuri was not a fan of his players’ defiance, calling their act “an embarrassment.”
In the final unfortunate episode for the league, all hell broke loose in the final minutes of Atlético San Luis versus Querétaro. Violence broke out between supporters and spilled onto the field, causing the match to be suspended with the score 2-0 to the visitors.
⚽ #LigaMX #Apertura2019 #DatoGEB— GDeportes (@GEBDeportes) October 21, 2019
!SUSPENDIDO POR VIOLENCIA!
Riña entre aficionados en la tribuna del estadio Alfonso Lastras provocó la suspensión del encuentro que @Club_Queretaro ganaba por 0-2 a @AtletideSanLuis al minuto 86 de juego. pic.twitter.com/63z6RKmryQ
Como dijo el buen @JuanHeribertoMF. Este juego ya tenía que ver sido jugado a puerta cerrada debidos a que aficionados del San Luis hicieron insultos racistas a Miller Bolaños de #Xolos en el último juego en el Alfonso Lastras. https://t.co/X0Uyyv62zY— Francisco Velasco (@FranciscoEfV) October 21, 2019
*Viewer discretion advised*— Wiso Vazquez (@WisoVazquez) October 21, 2019
Families, kids and other fans had to rush to field to get away from the vieolence in the stands during the match between Queretaro and San Luis
Liga MX released a statement condemning what transpired at Estadio Alfonso Lastras and pledging to take the proper measures to bring justice and take preventative measures in the future. North America’s top league has plenty of work to be done in the near future if they are to clean up their image and truly become the global league they aspire to be.