The Union knew their CONCACAF Champions League opponent Club America would be tough, especially at home, as they opened their two-leg semifinal.
Now they face an even tougher climb in their second leg, as Las Aguilas beat the Union soundly, 2-0, Thursday at Stadio Azteca in Mexico City.
While the Union opened the match with a near-miss on a scoring chance from forward Kasper Przybylko, the first half belonged to Club America. It made it 1-0 in the 17th minute as an outside shot from Richard Sanchez glanced off the back of Union midfielder Daniel Gazdag and caught goalie Andre Blake wrong-footed.
Club America dominated the first 45 minutes to the tune of 74 percent possession.
Jim Curtin’s squad turned up the intensity in the second half, but it didn’t lead to many scoring chances. And with about 15 minutes remaining, a Jose Martinez tackle of Sanchez led to a penalty upon video review, after the play was ruled clean on the field by referee Walter Lopez. Emanuel Aguilera converted the spot kick to double America’s lead.
At that point, the rush was on for the Union to nab a goal to stem their losses. Second-half sub Cory Burke ran onto a long ball in the box and was taken down by Aguilera. After video review, no penalty was awarded.
“The group fought hard, we could’ve maybe stolen a goal at the end, so I’m proud of the team for their effort,” Curtin said to reporters after the game. “But obviously when you don’t win, you’re not satisfied. Keeping it at 1-0 would’ve been key. That would’ve been almost a perfect result, but obviously we have a little more work to do at home.”
The Union will have their work cut out for them when the tie concludes a month from now at Subaru Park.