RSL’s Javier Morales was the hero as his dramatic equalizer in the 89th minute, swung the advantage to RSL and put the MLS team in pole position to become the first MLS club to win the trophy.
Mexican striker Aldo de Nigris put the home side ahead in the 18th minute, cleaning up a loose ball in the box. But, the goal did not faze RSL and they started to control the game and go the valuable away goal they were looking for when Nat Borchers scored in the 35th minute.
Monterrey got the lead back in the 62nd minute from the penalty spot after a handball by Jamison Olave. Monterrey then went in search of a third goal that would all but have ended the tie. But RSL defense withstood the pressure and then Morales hit them with a classic counter-attack goal to level the score with one minute remaining.
The second leg will be played on Wednesday, April 27, at Rio Tinto Stadium, where RSL have a 34-game unbeaten streak in official competitions since May 2009.
RSL captain Kyle Beckerman will miss the second leg at Rio Tinto through suspension after picking up a soft yellow card, while Monterrey will also be missing Jesús Zavala and de Nigris for the same reason.
Hard to overstate how big a result this was for RSL. U.S. teams have traditionally fared poorly in Mexico, whether it is an MLS team or the national team. For RSL to go into Monterrey, with the heat and the passionate Mexican crowd and get a draw, with two valuable away goals is a terrific result.
Those two away goals means that Monterrey now has to come to Rio Tinto and win instead of playing for a draw, and that should play to RSL’s advantage.