Santos Digs Deep -- Pumas Can't Dig Out

We were expecting Santos to make it the Concachampions semi-finals, and we knew that their path to the semis would be very bumpy. But I don’t think anyone was expecting the need for not one but two injury time goals to finally seal the win over a very plucky Montreal Impact.

I am stuck in the Panhandle again (where political attack ads point out which candidates aren’t conservative enough), and I had to sit through defensive driving. My only window to the game was mediotiempo’s game cast. I will admit that after Sebrango put the quebecois up 2-1, I thought there was no way in hell Santos would get the 4 goals they needed.

Matias Vuoso poached in two to get them close, but it was the substitute, Carlos Darwin Quintero who ended the Impact’s evolution into a semi finalist squad with an injury time brace. Wow!! Heart is an attribute that we seldom see in Mexican futbol, particularly in the regional tournaments. Both teams were overflowing last night. Comparatively, the only heart the national team has shown is in the love letters they write to themselves. Hats off to both teams for giving us a great quarterfinal.

The night before, my Pumas had a very good chance to extend their concachampions bid. However, Tuca Ferretti, as he had done all tournament long, fielded mostly a reserve squad. They did manage to maintain possession, but came up snake eyes in the both the hustle and imagination departments. Cruz Azul held their ground, and eventually ended Pumas’ chances with late goal. The lineup was intriguing, to say the least. After their 2 win start, Pumas did not win a again for 6 games. Their goals per game average looked like the interest on my savings account. They need the work, Tuca, so why did you send in the kids?

The kids are another disturbing trend that is festering over at CU. For years, Pumas’ youth academy (called canteras in Mexico – quarries) produced top-level talent, not just for Pumas, but for the entire league, and subsequently, the National team. Up until 1998, it could be said that the keystone of Mexico’s national team was chizzled at CU. That is no longer the case. Other teams have picked up the slack, most notably, Guadalajara. But Guadalajara’s reliance on their youth system is recent and derived somewhat from the stinginess of the owner. Breaking in the youngsters has been Pumas’ MO since they were promoted in the mid 60s. The vast majority of Mexico’s greatest players over the next 30 years were Pumas products. Mexico’s U20 team that is heading to TnT for the qualifying tournament has only two pumas players.

Before the last Apertura, the Pumas brass announced that they will be phasing out the foreign players and eventually fielding squads that were 100% hecho en México. Great news, I thought. They must have some real jewels in the youth system. The truth is, I am not so sure. The guys that lost to Cruz Azul certainly didn’t want to make me place a bet on Pumas winning tournaments in 2010 and beyond. Pumas needs to find its soul, in the same way that Santos found its heart.