The CONCACAF Champions League enters into a two-week break following a week that saw a sensational comeback by the Puerto Rico Islanders, allowing the focus to fall upon the final week of the USSF Division-2 regular season, the Major League Soccer playoff race and the US Open Cup.
The final week of the USSF-D2 season is wrapping up with all eight playoff-bound clubs already determined, eliminating the drama of making the cut. The race for the top seeds, however, is alive and well. The regular season championship is on the line with current leaders Austin Aztex on the road for two against the Carolina RailHawks and Montreal Impact. The match in Cary Friday is of huge significance as a victory would ensure the Aztex of the number one overall seed ahead of the Rochester Rhinos, who travel to St Louis Saturday. But Carolina also has a lot on the line as the RailHawks have a chance to claim the top seed in the NASL Conference currently sitting tied with the Vancouver Whitecaps, who host rival Portland Saturday. Carolina holds the tiebreaker. If Austin misses out Friday and Rochester wins Saturday, the Aztex will have a final shot at the regular season crown Sunday.
With six points separating the teams within the MLS playoff zone from those outside, it appears the race for the postseason may follow the same path as their second-tier counterparts. The Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes sit level on 39 points with the Kansas City Wizards at 33 and Toronto FC at 31. The Canadian side is in Seattle this week for a chance to make a dramatic cut in that deficit Saturday with just a handful of games left while the other two face top clubs. The Wizards visit New York and San Jose will be in Columbus. The Colorado Rapids, at 41, look to cement their position at home against last-place DC. The only match not played Saturday will be the usually-marquee LA derby featuring the Galaxy and Chivas USA, but the Galaxy have already clinched a postseason berth and their rivals are on the verge of mathematical elimination, which could happen before they take the field if Seattle and San Jose win.
The MLS action continues, sort of, the following Tuesday with the Sounders playing host to the Columbus Crew in the US Open Cup championship match. The Sounders will be looking to repeat since the amateur era when the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms won in 1982-83 despite three previous chances by MLS clubs DC United (96-97, 08-09) and Chicago Fire (03-04).
There are a couple enticing matches in Mexico this week as Necaxa plays host to unbeaten Monterrey Saturday along with the showdown of the CCL duo of Toluca and Santos Laguna.
A first-place showdown in Panama may be the match of the week throughout all of CONCACAF as San Francisco travels Sunday to play Chorrillo, one of two clubs tied for second just a point back. Also a point back is Sporting San Miguelito, which could jump into the top spot Friday night with a road match against Atletico Veraguense, which is tied for last.
A battle for second highlights the action in El Salvador as Firpo travels Sunday to play Alianza, which is tied with Aguila, which hosts Once Municipal the day before, two points back of second. In Guatemala, nearly every match is a battle to stay close to second as only five points separates second-place Juventud Retalteca, which plays last-place Universidad San Carlos, from Xelaju, which sits 10th after 10 weeks.
It is a little more complicated in Honduras where postponements have the table a bit unbalanced currently. Regardless, the marquee contest features, according to the table, is a battle between third-place Platense and visiting Real Espana, which is only a point back. However, co-leader Necaxa plays host to CCL side Olimpia, which is seven points back with two fewer games played and the other CCL club Marathon, also with two postponements, hosts the other co-leader Victoria with five points between the pair.
MIDWEEK MATCH RESULTS
CONCACAF Champions League
Tuesday – Toronto FC 1-1 Real Salt Lake… Cruz Azul 2-0 Arabe Unido… Saprissa 2-2 Monterrey… Wednesday – Puerto Rico Islanders 3-2 Toluca… Municipal 2-1 Columbus Crew… Santos Laguna 5-1 Joe Public… Seattle Sounders 2-0 Marathon… Thursday – FAS 1-4 Olimpia
Wednesday – MLS Colorado Rapids 4-1 Philadelphia Union… San Jose Earthquakes 0-3 Chicago Fire… Honduras Necaxa 2-1 Platense… Real Espana 3-3 Deportes Savio… Victoria 2-1 Motagua
COMING UP AROUND CONCACAF
Friday, October 1
USSF Division-2: Austin Aztex @ Carolina RailHawks… Crystal Palace Baltimore @ Tampa Bay Rowdies
Mexico: Jaguares Chiapas @ Estudiantes Tecos
Panama: Sporting San Miguelito @ Atletico Veraguense… Atletico Chiriqui @ Plaza Amador
Saturday, October 2
Major League Soccer: Toronto FC @ Seattle Sounders… Houston Dynamo @ Philadelphia Union… San Jose Earthquakes @ Columbus Crew… Real Salt Lake @ New England Revolution… Kansas City Wizards @ New York Red Bulls… Chicago Fire @ FC Dallas… DC United @ Colorado Rapids
USSF Division-2: Portland Timbers @ Vancouver Whitecaps… Puerto Rico Islanders @ Miami FC Blues… Rochester Rhinos @ AC St Louis
Mexico: America @ Cruz Azul… Necaxa @ Monterrey… Toluca @ Santos Laguna… Atlas @ Chivas Guadalajara… Tigres UANL @ San Luis… Pachuca @ Atlante
Costa Rica: Cartagines @ Deportivo Saprissa… Brujas @ Herediano
El Salvador: Atletico Marte @ Universidad de El Salvador… Once Municipal @ Aguila
Guatemala: Municipal @ Marquense… Xelaju @ Comunicaciones
Honduras: Victoria @ Marathon… Hispano @ Vida… Olimpia @ Necaxa
Panama: Alianza @ Chepo
Sunday, October 3
Major League Soccer: Los Angeles Galaxy @ Chivas USA
USSF Division-2: Austin Aztex @ Montreal Impact
Mexico: Morelia @ Pumas UNAM… Queretaro @ Puebla
Costa Rica: Barrio Mexico @ Perez Zeledon… San Carlos @ Alajuelense… Universidad de Costa Rica @ Santos de Guapiles… Puntarenas @ Limon
El Salvador: Isidro Metapan @ Atletico Balboa… Vista Hermosa @ FAS… Firpo @ Alianza
Guatemala: Heredia @ Mictlan… Malacateco @ Suchitepequez… Xinabajul @ Penarol La Mesilla… Juventud Retalteca @ Universidad San Carlos
Honduras: Real Espana @ Platense… Deportes Savio @ Motagua
Panama: San Francisco @ Chorrillo… Arabe Unido @ Tauro