Can Pumas overcome collapse to win Concacaf Champions League?

Rogerio and Pumas must put a late-game collapse behind them in order to claim their first Concacaf Champions League title. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Rogerio and Pumas must put a late-game collapse behind them in order to claim their first Concacaf Champions League title. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Pumas 2 Sounders 2
Pumas goalie Alfredo Talavera nearly stopped Nicolas Lodeiro’s first penalty kick and Lodeiro’s second late in stoppage time earned a 2-2 draw for the Sounders. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Pumas couldn’t protect a 2-0 lead at home and now have to win in Seattle to be crowned CONCACAF Champions.

UNAM was definitely the better team in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final. However, two late penalties put the Seattle Sounders back in the game, and now everything is tied up going into the final match of the tournament.

Mexico has had at least one representative in every CONCACAF final since 2005. Since then, only one team has failed to take the trophy home. Pumas was the last Mexican team to lose the Champions League against a non-Mexican team as they lost  3-2 to Saprissa. Now they want to avoid another embarrassment and keep the 17-year streak alive by winning against Seattle.

Throughout the tournament, Pumas has impressed us all, especially when you take into account they had one of the least expensive teams in the tournament. According to Transfermarkt, the Liga MX team has a market value of $30.69 million , almost half that of Seattle: $52.8 million .

Even other Mexican teams that competed in the tournament had better squads: Cruz Azul’s was valued at $64.35 million, Monterrey had an overwhelming $82.06 million squad and even Leon had a $48.9 million squad. So to be honest, what Pumas has done this season is out of the blue.

No one was surprised when Pumas went through the first round by eliminating Saprissa with a 6-3 score, but in the quarterfinals, the felines began their Cinderella run. New England Revolution crushed UNAM in the first leg 3-0. Then Pumas came back with a 3-0 win of their own at home, advancing 4-3 via penalty shootout.

In the semifinals versus Cruz Azul, Pumas was the better team, even when all odds were against them. The team put themselves up by two goals, and defended the lead throughout the rest of the series, surviving a red card in the second leg.

Pumas played well through the first 75 minutes of the final against the Sounders. Then two penalties in minutes 77′ and 94′ gave life to the MLS team.

What can Pumas do to win its first International tournament since 1982?

Juan Ignacio Dinneno has to be the best forward in the match. He is the top scorer in the CCL (9 goals), and the first leg was no different as the Argentine scored the first two goals of the game, the first with a penalty and then with a sound header. Dinenno is five goals better than second-best Nicolás Lodeiro, who scored both goals for Seattl,e and he’ll definitely win the Golden Boot. Most importantlu for Pumas, he has appeared every time they needed him. Dinneno scored two goals in the comeback versus New England, and both goals versus Cruz Azul that sent them to the final.

If Pumas want to take the trophy home, they will need Dinneno to score at least one goal in Seattle.

The Mexican team also needs to play a whole game without any mistakes. Sounds a bit obvious, but throughout this tournament, they have looked tired or out of synch in the final 15 minutes of the game.

In the first game against Saprissa, they allowed the 2-2 in the 75th minute and in the first leg against New England, they allowed a 1-0 deficit to increase to 3-0 in the last 15 minutes of the game.

In the semifinals, they had a comfortable 2-0 lead in the first leg before conceding to Christian Tabó in minute 82. And now in the final, they played better than Seattle but in the last 15 minutes, they let their rival tie the game.

Pumas must play 90 minutes of their best football. They have already shown they can be superior to Seattle, they just need to keep that level of play throughout the whole game.

Pumas will need to rely on a strong defense since one of their key offensive contributors, right back Alan Mozo, is likely out with a sprained knee.

On the bright side, they will have center back Arturo Ortiz available. Ortiz was out for the first game due to a suspension after a red card against Cruz Azul and should be motivated after a brief stint with El Tri in a friendly versus Guatemala. His return means a stronger, more experienced defense, especially as Ortiz has won 12 tackles (second most).

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Seattle has proven they are a very good team, especially at home where they are unbeaten. No one should be surprised if the MLS team wins the tournament but Pumas has already shown us they will fight until their last breath and won’t go down easy.