Crew fail to clinch a quarterfinal berth while Municipal's hopes are still alive.A brace from Guillermo “Pando” Ramirez proved to be too much for a weak Crew side as the Crew failed to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. The match was played in near monsoon conditions which left the pitch near impossible to play or keep footing on. The Crew now must travel to Trinidad and Tobago needing a result to advance.
A early effort from French midfielder Leandre Griffit was directly to Municipal keeper Rony Alvarez, and that chance proved to be the exception as both teams struggled mightily in the pouring rain and waterlogged pitch early. Defending was a hazard with members of both backlines losing their balance seemingly every time they tried to make a cut or hard stop.
The slog fest continued until the 19th minute, when Guillermo “Pando” Ramirez found a bit of space, and after a hard cut past Adam Moffat, placed the ball onto his left foot and fired a laser into the top corner of the goal, beating a helpless Andy Gruenebaum. The home side took the 1-0 lead, and with the conditions and the weak Crew side, it might have been enough.
The ever sloppier and sloppier pitch prevented much of anything offensively being created. However the home side found another piece of brilliance from “Pando” in the 39th. Martin Avila played about as good a through pass as could be found on the field and set Ramirez through. He took one touch to his right and fired a shot that was only partially saved by Gruenebaum, and the ball unluckily found its way into the back of the net. 2-0 Municipal, and all looked lost for the visitors. On the stroke of halftime, however, they found a way back in.
After a Andres Mendoza shot was deflected out for a corner, Crew captain Duncan Oughton's service found center-half Andy Iro. The ball found his feet a bit fortunately and the English defender made no mistake, with his goal giving the Crew a jolt going into halftime.
The dangerous and relentless Mario Rodriguez provided a scare for the visitors two minutes into the second half. After getting behind the defense, Rodriguez whipped in a hard cross that forced Gruenebaum to make a save, but his effort fell to the waiting Martin Avila, whose weak effort was saved by Crew center-half Eric Brunner and then cleared by Crew debutant Josh Williams.
The home side was the best coming out of the break, and they created a couple chances to add to their lead, but both a excellent turn and shot by 2nd half sub Castillo and a Mario Rodriguez breakaway effort were saved by Gruenebaum.
The last real chance of the night fell to Rodriguez in the 77th, whose effort to the far post was saved again by Gruenebaum, who was exceptional despite conceding twice. The action became heated late, when numerous shoving matches occurred after fouls by both teams, and even coaches were seen getting into a verbal sparring match neat the end of the match. The dust up produced a laughable yellow card to second half Crew sub Steven Lenhart, who was booked after simply tossing the ball to a Municipal player for a throw in. The player collapsed in a heap, acting as though he'd been punched in the ribs. Full time was soon whistled, with the home side taking the game by a final of 2-1.
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