Monterrey joins three other Liga MX teams in Concachampions quarterfinals

Brandon Vazquez scores against former mates again; Rayados will face Messi next

Maxi Meza leaps into the arms of Brandon Vazquez after Vazquez scored against his former team in a Concacaf Champions Cup match.
Maxi Meza leaps into the arms of Brandon Vazquez after Vazquez scored against his former team in a Concacaf Champions Cup match. / Jam Media/GettyImages

Monterrey survived a rugged test at home, edging FC Cincinnati 2-1 Thursday night to join three other Liga MX teams in the Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinals.

The reward for their 3-1 aggregate triumph? 

A date with Leo Messi and Inter Miami next month.

Luis Romo and Brandon Vazquez were the goal-scorers, either side of halftime, and goalie Esteban Andrada made four big saves as the Rayados protected, and extended, their 1-0 first-leg advantage.

Monterrey gets off to a slow start

FC Cincinnati put a scare into Monterrey right from the start. The MLS side was flowing readily into the Rayados’ defensive third and playmaker Luciano Acosta was pulling the strings masterfully.

Monterrey’s back line was scrambling to keep Cincy players from finding space in the box, midfielders were struggling to clear the ball, goalie Esteban Andrade smothered a dangerous cross in minute 5, then Corey Baird sent a header just wide in minute 11.

It took 18 minutes for Monterrey to make an appearance in Cincinnati’s area. Shortly thereafter, a Stefan Medina header off a corner kick skimmed over the crossbar.

The teams traded punches after that, with the Liga MX giants getting the better of it: Medina sent a screamer over the crossbar in minute 23; Acosta forced Andrada to make a diving save in minute 27; Maxi Meza fired a shot from the right side that Roman Celentano punched away; and Romo zipped a rocket just wide of the right post.

Monterrey broke through in minute 41, Romo finishing off a Rayados counter with a clever back-hell flick. The breakout started with a steal at the top of the box, then went up the left flank. Jesús Gallardo switched it to the right where Meza and Medina worked a give-and-go with Meza then sending a low cross who was standing Romo at the top of the 6-yard box. The goal put Monterrey up 1-0 (2-0 on aggregate).

The remaining 4 minutes of the first half saw FC Cincinnati show signs of frustration. Defender Ian Murphy picked up a yellow card in minute 43 and a few moments later there were three Monterrey players sprawled on the ground (no fouls were called) and a brief scuffle broke out when DeAndre Yedlin tried to yank one of the prone Rayados to his feet.

MLS visitors make it interesting

Just 1 minute after the restart, Cincy was on the board and it was nervous time for the home crowd.

Acosta collected a pass about 10 meters outside the box then weaved his way through three Rayados defenders before slotting home inside the far post.

One more score and the MLS visitors would knock out the Liga MX on the away-goal rule. 

Minutes later, the ball was ping-ponging in front of Andrada’s net and the goalie made two reflex saves during the sequence before conceding a corner kick.

Play moved down to the other end and Sergio Canales almost gave Monterrey some breathing room in minute 52 but his shot just slid past the near post.

Cincy did not let up, frantically looking for the goal that would take them through to the quarterfinals. Yedlin nearly provided it three minutes later, but his back-side header was corralled by Andrada.

Then Brandon Vazquez put his former teammates on a bus back to Cincinnati, tapping home all alone at the back post in minute 67. Maxi Meza was sent behind the defense by a long Jorge Rodríguez pass and he carried into the box before serving Vazquez on a platter.

Even so, Cincy didn’t leave quietly, Aaron-Salem Boupendza clanging Andrada’s right post with a perfectly executed bicycle kick 10 minutes later.


But that was it on the night and Rayados Nation exited Estadio BBVA Bancomer no doubt looking ahead to the match-up against Messi and Co.