Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa beat Atlante of Mexico 3-0 on Thursday and advanced to the CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinals. Saprissa will meet MLS champs Houston for a trip to the final.
Saprissa actually only scored one goal. Atlante had a pair of own goals as Jose Daniel Garcia and Gerardo Omar Castillo each scored a goal on their own goal. Armando Alonso bagged Saprissa's only goal of their own early in the second half.
Houston had problems against Pachuca a year ago, surrendering five goals in Pachuca. On one hand, it's probably a good thing Houston doesn't have to go to Mexico given Mexican clubs' 33-6 aggregate score against MLS teams on Mexican soil in this tournament's history. Then again, Saprissa's home turf isn't exactly a walk in the park. Saprissa, nicknamed El Monstruo, is about as tough of an away game as there is in Central America.
Funny things happen down there too. Atlante had two own goals there. In 2006, the Galaxy played the best first half of soccer they'd played in a long time - including the double-winning 2005 season - and held a 2-0 lead at halftime. But somehow Saprissa clawed their way back into the game and sent it into extra time where a phantom foul call set up a free kick which led to the match-winner and subsequent tournament winning goal.
Houston will host the first leg so they'll need to do better than a two-goal win as they did against Pachuca in the first leg a year ago. Atlante took a 2-1 aggregate score into Saprissa and crashed out spectacularly.
If Houston reaches the final, they will have earned their trip.