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Chipotle MLS Homegrowns fall on penalty kicks to Club América in Landon Donovan coaching debut

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Maybe Landon Donovan has a future at this coaching thing.

Playing against the Under-20 side of Mexican giants Club América in Tuesday night’s second annual Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game, Donovan led a team of MLS academy products assembled one day prior to a 1-1 regulation tie. But the MLSers couldn’t finish the job in the ensuing penalty-kick shootout, losing 5-4 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

A long-distance, first-half strike by San Jose Earthquakes attacker Tommy Thompson was countered by a Club América second-half penalty kick — the first goals in an MLS Homegrown Game after last year’s inaugural edition finished 0-0. The deadlock resulted in the shootout, which Club América clinched when Montreal’s Anthony Jackson-Hamel skied his attempt in the sixth round.

In the first half, FC Dallas and Mexican youth international goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez came up big on several occasions for the MLS side, parrying a 9th-minute shot by Javier Rabadán (WATCH) and gobbling up a 27th-minute free kick from Jonh González, who was stuffed again by the 20-year-old ‘keeper just moments later (WATCH).

Buoyed by those stops, the MLS Homegrowns grew in confidence as the first half wore on and ultimately took the lead in the 34th minute on a shot from 20 yards out by Thompson, who finished his run out of midfield with a searing right-footed shot that was too hot to handle for América goalkeeper Jonathan León Quiñones (WATCH)

Donovan opted to switch out eight of 11 players at the break, and just as they were getting settled in, Club América pinged the base of the right post in the 53rd minute and, six minutes later, FC Dallas player Alex Zendejas was forced to clear the ball off the line to avoid an equalizer (WATCH).

Although the Homegrowns came close to doubling their lead on a missile by FC Dallas forward Coy Craft on the hour mark, Club América continued pouring on the numbers in the attack. Columbus Crew SC goalkeeper Matt Lampson, who came on at halftime, did well to stop a couple of attacks, but there was nothing he could do on the penalty awarded in the 68th minute. 

Orlando City’s Tyler Turner, playing left back in the game, was judged to have tripped up Fernando González chasing a cross in the box and after a disagreement with a teammate on who would take the spot kick, Sergio Rodríguez stepped up to convert, sending Lampson the other way (WATCH).

Club America’s Daniel Vázquez, who was the player denied the chance to take the 68th-minute penalty, proceeded to put on a solo show between the 73rd and 76th minute. First his volley with his back to goal grazed the crossbar, and then his acrobatic overhead kick was tipped by Lampson against the left post and smothered by the ‘keeper on the goal line (WATCH).

The Mexican side came close on two more occasions with shots that nearly hit the target in the final minutes, but they missed just one of their six attempts in the penalty-kick shootout, while the MLSers failed to convert on two -- León Quiñones, who won match MVP honors, stopped Zendejas in the second round (WATCH), and Jackson-Hamel’s miss ultimately proved the decisive blow (WATCH).

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