Cruz Azul got off to an awful start to their CONCACAF Champions League, only getting a 0-0 tie against Haiti’s Arcahaie FC. The game was played in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic instead of Haiti, but the Haitian team played as the home side and got a great result. Cruz Azul had a very poor performance as they failed to create much danger, and although they had almost complete control of the possession they couldn’t break through a Haitian side that “bunkered” all game and defended well. Cruz Azul should be favored to get the win and qualify in the second leg in Mexico City but the tie will leave a sour taste, especially since they couldn’t break down the defense of Arcahaie.
The first half started with Cruz Azul coming out with a totally alternate lineup including third goalkeeper Andres Gudiño. It would be a chance to see a couple of players that hadn’t been getting playing time like Alexis Gutierrez, Misael Dominguez, and Alexis Peña. Cruz Azul as expected started dominating an Arcahaie team that seemed to be up for it, but was having trouble getting the ball. After a couple of even minutes, Arcahaie started to get more comfortable with the ball while Cruz Azul struggled with the inexperience of the lineup. Cruz Azul didn’t get a chance until a cross from Dominguez found Elias Hernandez, who volleyed a hard shot that forced Arcahaie goalkeeper Gooly Elien to make a good save. Cruz Azul continued to have complete control of the possession, but Arcahaie did a good job of sitting back. Walter Montoya had the best opportunity so far in the game when he took a long range shot from outside the area that hit the right post. Cruz Azul continued to dominate the match, but overall their possession was wasteful as they constantly passed the ball backwards but never came close to making a dangerous play. The halftime whistle blew and the score of 0-0 was deserved for the poor play showed so far.
The second half started with no substitutions from either team, as Cruz Azul hoped to finally make an impact offensively. As expected Cruz Azul started to get more possession and unlike the first half, they at least were playing more directly. Cruz Azul wasted a great opportunity when Arcahaie lost the ball and Dominguez had a chance to go on a one-on-one against the keeper, but he wasted time switching the ball to his right leg and allowed a defender to arrive and block his shot. Cruz Azul had to make changes to fix things and subbed out Rafael Baca (who had a poor match) and Jose Martinez for Yoshimar Yotun and Adrian Aldrete. Arcahaie made their first moves by subbing in Kervens Jolicoeur. Jolicoeur then proceeded to get a yellow card a minute after entering for a foul on Yotun. Fabrice Latortue was subbed in a minute later by Arcahaie. The game started to get chippy with a hard foul on Hernandez earning another yellow card for the Hatian team. Arcahaie almost had a great opportunity when Jolicoeur got a ball in the area and was wide open but Aldrete rushed to get to him and cleared the ball. Cruz Azul would sub out Jaiber Jimenez for Rodrigo Huescas. Cruz Azul direct style of the early minutes of the half was over, and once again Cruz Azul turned into a team that controlled possession but couldn’t create anything against an Arcahaie team that was sitting back and doing a good job of defending themselves. Cruz Azul subbed out Misael Dominguez for Pedro Pacheco. Off a free kick, Pacheco was able to dive and connect with a cross but it went wide. Later Elias Hernandez got a ball in the area from a bad header by an Arcahaie defender but his shot went well wide. There were no chances after that, and Cruz Azul ended with one of the worst results in recent years in CONCACAF.
Cruz Azul gave an embarrassing performance on Tuesday night. Against a very limited Arcahaie team, they failed to score or even create much danger. The most damming thing of the match was probably the fact that the best opportunity of the game came off a long range shot by Montoya in the first half which showed that it could be a good weapon for Cruz Azul to score or open up the Haitian side. Yet that was it for Cruz Azul using long range shots in the game. There wasn’t even numerous shots that would go wide as expected in some matches when the shooting is just off. Worse yet was the fact that a young forward like Pacheco actually pressured the opposing side and caused them some trouble just on enthusiasm alone, which meant that the side would have done that a different taste could have been left for their fans. With most of these players not being starters, it was a good opportunity to show what they could do and most of them wasted it. Cruz Azul should be heavy favorites in the return leg and it shouldn’t be a surprise if they even get a “goleada” but so far, they left a poor taste in the tough leg in every aspect.