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Home teams prevail in opening games of 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League semifinals

Tigres UANL and FC Dallas picked up useful wins at home in their respective first legs of the 2016-17 CCL semifinals.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The first legs of the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League both went the way of the home team.

Top-seeded Vancouver Whitecaps traveled to Tigres UANL, and was handed a humbling 2-0 defeat. As they had done in the quarterfinals, the Caps settled into a counter-attacking strategy that allowed their opponent a lot of possession, but there is a fine line between trading off possession for tactical advantage and simply being outplayed. Tigres enjoyed almost 80% of the ball and rained 14 shots on goal with seven on target. Vancouver clung on, keeping the game scoreless until the 66th minute when Kendall Waston diverted a cross into his own net. In the 87th minute, just as it appeared the Caps might get out of Mexico with a relatively benign result, Eduardo Vargas found a second for Tigres.

A two-goal deficit is not insurmountable. Vancouver isn't out of the series, and one might argue Tigres missed so many chances to score that they perhaps ought to be concerned they allowed the Caps to slip out of the first leg with hope of turning the semifinal around that should never have been permitted to survive the match in Mexico.

Post-match, VWFC head coach Carl Robinson praised his team's effort and organization, promised his side was not going to give up hope, but also noted that Tigres brought a quality to its work on the field that he and his team had little choice but to admire. "There is a gap, you know - and anyone who says there is not a gap doesn't understand football," he told reporters in his post-game comments.

The return leg is on April 5 in Vancouver. The Whitecaps will be aware that in the quarterfinals, Tigres ran away with the second leg on the road, beating Pumas 3-0.

In the other semifinal, FC Dallas opened its series against Pachuca with a 2-1 home win. Given that match started with Los Tuzos taking a third-minute lead, it was an impressive result for FCD, who have a pinpoint free-kick from Kelly Acosta to thank for turning the game around.
Much like Vancouver, Dallas will look at the pattern of Pachuca's quarterfinal against Saprissa and have understandable concerns about the 2-1 lead's ability to hold up when the semifinal series concludes in Mexico on April 4. In the quarterfinals, Los Tuzos took a scoreless draw out of Costa Rica and then shattered the illusion that the two sides were well matched by running away with the second leg, 4-0.

But obviously winning the home leg is a much better result than either of the other possible outcomes for FCD. The MLS side has a couple of weeks to game-plan for the inevitable Pachuca assault on its goal in the second leg.