The Houston Dynamo conceded a pair of first-half goals to Mexican club Atlante on Tuesday night en route to a 3-0 defeat at Estadio Andres Quintana Roo and elimination in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, 4-1 on aggregate.
Atlante became the first team to advance to the semifinals of the inaugural tournament, and they will meet either the Montreal Impact of the United Soccer Leagues or Honduran champions Marathon in the next round. Houston is the latest victim in an unfortunate streak for Major League Soccer clubs, who have yet to win a match on Mexican soil.
Things went sour inside of a half hour for the Dynamo, the lone MLS squad to advance to the knockout stages. Following a foul in the midfield, Atlante goalkeeper Federico Vilar found Fernando Navarro with a long, well-driven drive. The 19-year-old beat Houston defender Wade Barrett to the ball, headed it down, and then chipped it over Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad from inside the six-yard box to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute.
Just 13 minutes later, Atlante, which played the Dynamo to a 1-1 draw last week at Robertson Stadium, added a second goal when Houston defender Craig Waibel mistimed a header from a Navarro cross, giving Rafael Marquez Lugo space to put his open header from the penalty spot over Onstad's left shoulder and a 2-0 lead. Waibel was the lone change to Dominic Kinnear's squad from the first leg, replacing Bobby Boswell (tonsils), who scored the lone goal for Houston in the opener.
Waibel, though, went off at halftime, one of two changes for the start of the second half. Geoff Cameron and Corey Ashe came on and Barrett also came off, with Kinnear desperate for a more aggressive attack in the final 45 minutes.
Despite the changes and several good chances for Houston, noticably a Brian Ching header that went wide, Giancarlo Maldonado closed the game out for Atlante with a 90th-minute goal. Colombian Luis Gabriel Rey dribbled through three Houston defenders near the right corner flag and crossed the ball to Maldonado. The Venezuelan striker took the ball down off his chest and unleashed a rocket from eight yards out under the crossbar and into the net to book Atlante's ticket to the semifinals.
The Dynamo did have some scoring chances. In the 11th minute, Kei Kamara played a quality ball to Brian Mullan, who could not connect with a sliding Brad Davis at the back post. Seven minutes later, Mullan's hard work on the right side led to the Dynamo's first corner kick, but Houston found nothing to show for it.
In the 21st minute, Mullan's chip between two defenders found Kamara down the right. He cut the ball back inside the six-yard box but could not manage a shot. Five minutes later, Ching was open in front of goal, but Davis played the ball behind the big Hawaiian.
In the 67th minute, Ashe found Kamara, but he was called for a foul as his header sailed over the crossbar. Three minutes later, a Davis free kick deflected out for a corner, one of five for Houston on the night, but Ricardo Clark could not put his header on frame. Ching's best chance came six minutes later from an Ashe cross, which he headed wide at the far post.
Atlante, one of three Mexican sides remaining in the inaugural Champions League competition, earned a measure of revenge against Houston; in last summer's SuperLiga, the Dynamo claimed a 4-0 victory over Atlante at Robertson Stadium en route to the championship game.
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com.
Houston Dynamo vs. Atlante
March 3, 2009 -- Estadio Andrés Quintana Roo, Cancun MEX
2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League -- Quarterfinals, Game 2
ATN -- Fernando Navarro 1 (Federico Vilar) 23
ATN -- Rafael Marquez Lugo 1 (Fernando Navarro) 36
ATN -- Giancarlo Maldonado 1 (Luis Gabriel Rey) 90
Houston Dynamo -- Pat Onstad, Richard Mulrooney, Craig Waibel (Geoff Cameron 46), Julius James, Wade Barrett (Corey Ashe 46), Brian Mullan (Chris Wondolowski 84), Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden, Brad Davis, Kei Kamara, Brian Ching.
Substitutes not used: Tally Hall, Mike Chabala, John Michael Hayden, Corey Ashe, Chris Wondolowski.
Atlante -- Federico Vilar, Fernando Navarro, Miguel Angel Martinez, Gerardo Espinoza, Andres Carevic, Jose Guerrero (Luis Gerardo Venegas 53), Daniel Arreola (Giancarlo Maldonado 68), Gabriel Pereyra, Clemente Ovalle (Luis David Velazquez 83), Rafael Marquez Lugo, Luis Gabriel Rey.
Substitutes Not Used: Omar Ortiz, Christian Bermudez, Gerardo Castillo, Ismael Valadez.
ATN -- Miguel Angel Martinez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 10
HOU -- Richard Mulrooney (caution; Reckless Tackle) 33
HOU -- Kei Kamara (caution; Reckless Tackle) 34
HOU -- Julius James (caution; Reckless Tackle) 53
ATN -– Federico Vilar (caution; Delay of Game) 57
ATN -- Clemente Ovalle (caution; Reckless Tackle) 70
Referee: Silviu Petrescu (CAN)
Referee's Assistants: Hector Vergara (CAN); Joe Fletcher (CAN)
4th Official: Mauricio Morales (MEX)
Weather: Windy-and-68 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial