Match: Santos Laguna vs. Club América
Date: Thursday, May 10
Time: 8:30 PM Eastern, 7:30 PM Central, 5:30 PM Pacific, 12:30 UTC
Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)
Club América and Santos Laguna come into the first leg of their 2018 Liga MX Clausura semifinal on the backs of some very impressive performances against their quarterfinal opposition.
Santos Laguna, who play the role of host on Thursday night, did just about everything that they needed to do in order to squeak past defending champions Tigres UANL at home on Sunday. Needing to overcome a 2-0 first leg deficit, los Guerreros got off to a dream start as they took the lead thanks to Osvaldo Martinez’s 17th minute goal. The early goal seemed to shell-shock Tigres and set the tone for how the rest of the match would play out. 11 minutes later Jonathan Rodriguez was shown a controversial red card further complicating the already daunting task of overcoming a two-goal deficit against Tigres UANL.
Instead of folding under the pressure, Santos Laguna actually started to dominate the match with a man fewer than Tigres. However, it looked like this dominance would be for not until Djaniny scored a 73rd goal to send los Guerreros into the liguilla semifinals. Djaniny’s goal is one that is not likely to be forgotten by Santos fans anytime soon. As if it wasn’t heroic enough to score a goal to launch your team into the next round of the liguilla, Djaniny did so carrying a shoulder injury from earlier in the season.
Club América comes into their Thursday night trip to Torreón having played some of their best fútbol since Miguel Herrera took over as the club’s head coach a little over a year ago. The return of Jérémy Menez combined with the phenomenal play of Matteus Uribe has turned Club América into an offensive juggernaut that should worry opposition teams as soon as they get anywhere close to the goal.
In their quarterfinals matchup against crosstown rivals Pumas UNAM, las Águilas scored six goals with five of them coming from Uribe and Menez alone. The level of play from Uribe and Memez was simply astounding over the course of the two matches. The way that these two players combined on the offensive side is particularly amazing when you take into consideration that Menez missed a large portion of the season with some sort of muscular injury.
On paper Club América is definitely the favorites to advance from this semifinal tie. If Santos Laguna are going to have any hope of playing for their sixth Liga MX title they are going to have to figure out a way to shut down the potent attack of Uribe and Menez. However, the squad from the north is no stranger to being the underdog. After defeating Tigres UANL, Djaniny and company should have every bit of confidence that they can defeat Club América and advance to the Liga MX finals.