Monday, September 20

CCL Mid-Term Report: GROUP C

Current Standings (Points, WDL, GD)
Monterrey… 9… 3-0-0… +5
Saprissa… 6… 2-0-1… +4
Marathon… 3… 1-0-2… -4
Seattle Sounders… 0… 0-0-3… -5

Monterrey seemingly can’t be beat. The club has not lost in the CCL or Mexican Primera Division through 11 matches overall. On the flip side, the Sounders are struggling mightily with just one goal in the three defeats and are the only team with a loss at home thus far.

Report Cards

Monterrey (Mexico): A+
In arguably the most difficult group, the unbeaten Mexican side has been perfect in the CCL with three wins and no goals allowed. Even with domestic league play in the midst, the club has allowed only three goals overall since the start of the group phase, posting five shutouts in seven outings. Aldo De Nigris has accounted for three of the five CCL strikes, notching the lone goal 25 minutes into the opening victory against Saprissa. He added to Neri Cardozo’s tally in a 2-0 win at Seattle in the second and opened the scoring 22 minutes into the 2-0 win versus Marathon with William Parades notching the second. Current league record: 5-3-0.

Outlook – With a berth nearly guaranteed at this point, any surprises would likely come as the result of letting up on the gas. Projection: First. With no MLS club having ever won in Mexico, the berth should be clinched with the next match at home against the Sounders. Their efforts will then determine who finishes second as they travel to Saprissa and Marathon for the final two games.

Saprissa (Costa Rica): B
Off to a slow start in domestic league play, Saprissa has rebounded in both of late. Perhaps inspired by the narrow 1-0 loss in Mexico, the club’s last defeat was on the road several days later in league play. Since then, the club has been unbeaten (4-1-0) in both competitions. The Costa Ricans used a little help from the officiating though. Two minutes after falling behind to Marathon, Alejandro Sequeira tied the match in the 34th. A Marathon red card in the 46th opened the door as Jairo Arrieta, Josue Martinez and Armando Alonso propelled them to a 4-1 win. At home against Seattle, another dismissal in the 38th for the opposition set the stage as Canadian David Guzman and Allan Aleman tallied in the second half. Current league record: 3-2-4.

Outlook – Coming off a loss to co-league leader Barrio Mexico that ended a five-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, Saprissa travels to Honduras to meet a Marathon squad that got the week off due to a squabble over the schedule. They remain on the road domestically when they return home before playing host to Monterrey, which starts a run of four straight at home before travelling to Seattle. Projection: Third. The day off for Marathon will prove the difference as both host Monterrey and visit Seattle in the final two matches.

Marathon (Honduras): C-
Things got off to a good start with the 2-1 victory over Seattle in which they came from behind on goals from Orvin Paz in the 26th and Nicolas Cardozo via a penalty in the 45th. Mario Berrios gave them the lead in Costa Rica, but Randy Diamond’s send-off allowed Saprissa to rally for a 4-1 win. A 2-0 road defeat in Mexico to Monterrey was a third straight overall without a win. Current league record: 2-3-1.

Outlook – With one win in the last five overall, the Honduran club was likely pleased to have their schedule cleared of the tough match against fellow CCL side Olimpia Sunday after a dispute as they host Saprissa this week. A trip to Seattle is next on the slate with a home contest with Monterrey, which should have the top spot clinched, coming to Honduras for the final game. Projection: Second. The bye week will help Marathon earn the victory and the Honduras will likely see a Seattle club focused on a busy push for the playoffs and bid to win the US Open Cup allow for a key road win. A similarly unmotivated Mexican side could also prove to be the final piece of the puzzle if they fall in Seattle.

Seattle Sounders (MLS): D-
The Sounders were dealt a difficult slate in the toughest group, facing the Mexican entrant at home and traveling to play two established and successful Central American sides in the first half of the group phase. Roger Levesque scored 16 minutes into the opener, but since then Seattle has not found any luck as Marathon rallied for a 2-1 win in Guatemala decided by a penalty. That was followed by a 2-0 defeat at home to Mexican unbeaten Monterrey and a 2-0 loss to Saprissa.

Outlook – Although it would seem that the schedule tips back in the Sounders’ favor after the first half, the unfortunate draw of playing in Mexico for the next contest seals their fate. With the US Open Cup Final around the corner and the playoff race at full throttle, the club will likely turn its focus away from the CCL – after all, a win at home against Columbus sends them back to next year’s tournament and a shot at redemption. Projection: Fourth. Seattle will likely join the rest of the MLS clubs that have lost in Mexico, essentially knocking them out, before playing host to Marathon and Saprissa. The Open Cup match falls during the two-week break in CCL play, allowing Seattle the possibility to play spoiler for the other two bids to advance.

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