6 Apr, 2009

Editor’s note on title: OK, they’re not techincally American, but if you can travel there without a passport – and all other professional soccer teams from our full-fledged 50 stats haven’t made it this far, «we» need to find some way to find some pride in the professional game north of the 2-0 parrallel right? On the the story…

The USL First Division Puerto Rico Islanders resume their CONCACAF Champions League run Tuesday evening on Fox Soccer Channel at 10:00 pm ET when they visit Mexico City in the second leg of the Semifinals against Cruz Azul. The Islanders bring a 2-0 lead into the match following their victory at home March 17.

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With the start of their 2009 USL-1 campaign still two weeks out, the Islanders have continued to meld their preseason with preparation for their Champions League matches, playing the expansion Austin Aztex to a scoreless draw on the weekend in Texas on their way to Mexico.

Cruz Azul, meanwhile, has continued to struggle in the Primera Division. Following their 2-0 defeat in Bayamon, the media began speculation that coach Benjamin Galindo was on the hot seat for the five-time CONCACAF Champions. While he survived a wave of several dismissals over the past few weeks among his peers, including fellow Champions League Semifinalist Santos Laguna manager Daniel Guzman, he was unable to turn the club’s fortunes around in league play.

Cruz Azul were handily defeated 3-1 on the road by unbeaten Toluca before the FIFA international break. They are coming off another tough loss on the weekend at home, dropping a 3-2 decision at home to Pumas UNAM, whom they eliminated from the Champions League in the Quarterfinals via a pair of 1-0 victories.

In the opening leg of the Semifinal series, Sandy Gbandi started the match off with a bang for the hosts when he tallied just four minutes into the fixture. A free kick launched by Gbandi from long range in the 37th was deflected into the back of the net inside the penalty area by offseason addition Nicholas Addlery, who tallied in his third straight Champions League game for the Islanders.

Goalkeeper Bill Gaudette proved the hero the remainder of the match as he made numerous saves on dangerous Cruz Azul opportunities to maintain the clean sheet and keep the visitors from gaining an advantage in the away goals tiebreaker.

In the other Semifinal series, Santos Laguna defeated Atlante 2-1 in the opening leg of their semifinal series. As the two head to their meeting in Cancun Wednesday, Santos is coming in off a 2-2 draw against title contending Pachuca while Atlante finished scoreless against struggling Indios de Ciudad Juarez