Monday, September 20

CCL Mid-Term Report: GROUP D

Current Standings (Points, WDL, GD)
Toluca… 7… 2-1-0… +7
Puerto Rico Islanders… 4… 1-1-1… 0
Olimpia… 4… 1-1-1… -2
FAS… 1… 0-1-2… -5

The group is the only one where no clubs have lost at home although the first week saw a pair of draws. Since then, the winning home sides have outscored the opposition 13-1 on aggregate with Toluca perfect defensively with no goals allowed through the three matches.

Report Cards

Toluca (Mexico): A-
A slow start to league play that started with a loss was accompanied by a matching crawl in the Champions League as Toluca went scoreless on the road against the Salvadoran club FAS, which was experiencing a worse drop in form. The club has not been defeated since that road opener to Pumas and is beginning to show why it was a preseason domestic league favorite. Toluca used home field to its full extent with a 4-0 win over Olimpia and 3-0 victory against Puerto Rico. Juan Cuevas scored the first two against Olimpia and the second against the Islanders from the spot. The other goals all came from four different scorers. Current league record: 3-4-1.

Outlook – Well in command of the group, Toluca travels to Olimpia and Puerto Rico, infamous for upsetting Mexican clubs, before facing FAS in the final match of the group. Projection: First. Toluca will win one of the next two on the road, if not both, and ensure themselves of advancing to the second round, utilizing the final game to secure the top spot.

Puerto Rico Islanders (USSF Division-2): B
The Islanders used home field and capitalized on a run of good form in domestic league play to get a good start in the group phase. Nicholas Addlery opened the scoring against Olimpia in a 1-1 draw that was followed by a 4-1 victory over FAS in which Addlery finished the scoring. David Foley struck first and Jonathan Fana scored on both sides of the lone FAS tally. Mired in a chase for the playoffs, the Islanders were unable to conjure any magic in Mexico, falling to Toluca, 3-0. Current league record: 9-9-10.

Outlook – Three matches next week will determine a lot as Puerto Rico needs positive CCL group results combined with a domestic league win at Carolina to simplify the path ahead of them. Projection: Third. A win at FAS will put Puerto Rico in great position, but Toluca will be well-warned heading to the Caribbean and will probably avoid an upset, leaving the hopes of the Islanders on the final game. Unfortunately, the match in Honduras will come during the USSF Division-2 playoffs, which the Islanders will likely qualify for, allowing Olimpia to take advantage of a tired squad that may be forced to travel to Vancouver in the postseason.

Olimpia (Honduras): B
It has been a surprisingly tough domestic campaign for the club, which has seen one victory so far balanced by one loss. Despite that, Olimpia has placed itself in position of advancing to the CCL Quarterfinals. The key result was the 1-1 opening match draw in Puerto Rico where Mauricio Copete scored the equalizer. The club’s first loss of the year was came in Mexico, where Toluca handily won, 4-0. The Hondurans rebounded with a 2-0 win on a pair of Roger Rojas goals over FAS, which is off to a worse start. Current league record: 1-4-1.

Outlook – Currently tied for second, Olimpia will likely have to fall behind in the race as they host Toluca next. But the second match is against FAS and Puerto Rico is in the midst of a playoff chase that should allow the Hondurans to pull back level. The second berth in the Quarterfinals will come down to the final game, which will put Olimpia in the driver’s seat as the home club in a match that falls during the postseason schedule for Puerto Rico. Projection: Second. The only thing that could put a wrinkle in Olimpia’s future would be another Mexican upset in Puerto Rico, a result that would make goal differential a huge hurdle in the final fixture.

FAS (El Salvador): D+
Since winning the Apertura, it has been a steady decline as the club finished the Clausura in seventh and has just one win thus far in the domestic league campaign. Things looked positive at the start of the group phase with a shocking scoreless draw against visiting Toluca, but it did not continue. William Reyes scored the lone goal of the first three matches against Puerto Rico, but the club was already down two en route to a 4-1 road loss. The Salvadorans did no better in Honduras, falling to Olimpia, 2-0. Current league record: 1-2-4.

Outlook – At this point, the Salvadoran side is not expected to challenge for a spot in the Quarterfinals, but are at home for the next two games and could be a large factor in the goal differential race should Puerto Rico and Olimpia finish tied. Projection: Fourth. FAS hosts Puerto Rico, which is in the midst of trying to secure a playoff berth, in the first match, giving them a shot at an upset. They then play host to Olimpia in what is the middle of a five-game home stand. It all comes to a close in Mexico, where the team will be looking for pride against a Toluca side that may still be playing for seeding.

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