Friday, September 17

Coming Up Around CONCACAF

It has been a week of dominance thus far thanks to the CONCACAF Champions League where the winning teams outscored their opposition 22-1 with Toronto FC scoring the lone goal in defeat while Municipal and Santos Laguna tallied four goals in the lone draw of the third installment of group play.

The midweek Champions League action was joined by a handful of matches in the United States and a nearly-full slate in El Salvador. The home sides in MLS and USSF Division-2 were unbeaten with San Jose and Minnesota winning Wednesday while FC Dallas and Tampa Bay earned draws Thursday against New York and Austin, respectively. While the struggling Salvadoran side FAS was in action in the CCL, the top four clubs in Panama were all in action Wednesday, posting victories to leave things status quo.

There are several marquee match-ups coming up over the weekend throughout CONCACAF. In Mexico, Group B leaders America and Toluca will meet in one of the two matches that wrap the week up Sunday. Also on Sunday, Honduras’ two current Champions League participants Olimpia and Marathon square off while in Guatemala, two of the top three sides face one another as Comunicaciones hosts leader Municipal. On Saturday, fourth-place Sporting San Miguelito faces co-leader and Champions League side Arabe Unido in Panama’s key contest.

In Major League Soccer Saturday, the Columbus Crew are home against the Seattle Sounders in a preview of the US Open Cup Championship game to be played in Seattle three weeks later. The next tier is all about the race for the final four playoff berths as only three weeks remain in the regular season.

Tuesday, September 14

TSB Power Rankings: Mexican Shake-Up

The results in Mexico after a week off led to plenty of movement in the Top 10 of TSB’s CONCACAF Pro Club Power Rankings this week with Monterrey taking Santos Laguna’s spot at number two.

Santos Laguna’s shocking 5-2 loss to Queretaro saw them drop to number nine on the list as Monterrey narrowly defeated fellow top 10 side Tigres, 1-0, to claim the second spot as they remain the lone unbeaten in the league, surpassing the Major League Soccer duo of FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake that were unable to take advantage of the upset south of the border, each playing to a scoreless draw. Chivas Guadalara also moved into the first five with a draw against Pachuca with Toluca moving into the Top 10 with a 1-1 draw on the road against Necaxa, who moved up to eighth from 17. In between the two is America, which climbed from 18 to seven with a 2-0 victory over seventh-ranked Morelia.

Big movers further down the list included Honduran leader Platense, which won, 1-0, on the road against Olimpia to climb 12 spots to 40. In Guatemala, a 1-1 draw between co-leaders Comunicaciones and Juventud Retalteca closed the gap between the two as Juventud jumped from 64 to 51. In Panama, San Francisco continued to show good form with only one defeat, rising 20 spots to 56. Another Panamanian club with one loss, Chorrillo is not far behind at 62 after a jump of 12.

Moving into the list this week were the Miami FC Blues, which upset Montreal, as well as Universidad de El Salvador, Atletico Balboa, Suchitepequez and Alianza, knocking the clubs Atletico Marte (El Salvador), Hispano (Honduras), Plaza Amador (Panama), Crystal Palace Baltimore (USSF-D2) and Charlotte Eagles (USL-2) out of the Top 100.

Central America Round-Up

Unlike their North American counterparts, the Champions League sides still representing Central America in the tournament performed well domestically prior to the third week of the Group Phase with an overall record of 2-2-2.

The two losses were understandable, in the case of Olimpia, and not surprising, in respect to FAS. Olimpia was edged by Platense, who moved into the league lead in Honduras. FAS, however, has struggled mightily in El Salvador league play and dropped its match to one-win Universidad de El Salvador, remaining in last.

Monday, September 13

MLS Improving In CCL Play

When the newly-formatted CONCACAF Champions League debuted in September of 2008, the critics were quick to jump all over Major League Soccer for failing to compete at a respectable level in an international competition. It was arguably a fair complaint given an initial 0-1-3 (W-D-L) record led to early Preliminary Round exits for Chivas USA and the New England Revolution against clubs from Panama and Trinidad, respectively. Move forward two years and the league is showing improvement in the competition.

Of the nine leagues that have been represented in more than one edition of the tournament, MLS got off to an embarrassing start as the worst league based on points percentage despite the Houston Dynamo reaching the Quarterfinals, thanks in part to those opening round results. Assigning points to each match, including head-to-head series, the percentage of points earned out of what was possible came to .222 that year with an eighth-place finish in the home (.296) and away (.148) percentages. MLS clubs were winless in nine road matches in the inaugural edition (0-4-5) with only Panama joining MLS without a road victory (0-2-6).

But since then, the league has improved.

North America Round-Up: CCL Clubs Suffer League Upsets

Five matches defined the week with the biggest one coming south of the border. Queretaro’s stunning 5-2 victory over Santos Laguna was one of three major upsets of the week – one in each league – as some CONCACAF Champions League teams had a rough outing on the eve of returning to group play. In total, the eight North American league-based CCL clubs finished the week 3-4-4 with Cruz Azul, Monterrey and Puerto Rico the only teams to earn wins.

Queretaro more than doubled their previous six-match goal total of four with the victory over the Champions League side, which had allowed just three goals in their league campaign. In Major League Soccer, it was last-place DC United downing Champions League side Toronto FC, 1-0, as the Canadians suffered their fifth shutout in six league games. The upset of the week in USSF Division-2 also came at the expense of a Champions League participant with Puerto Rico falling at home, 2-1, to Montreal midweek.

The Islanders did rebound to down league-leading Austin, 3-1, over the weekend much like the Los Angeles Galaxy, whom they knocked out of the CCL in the Preliminary Round, handily took a showdown of league-leaders by defeating CCL club Columbus by the same scoreline to advance from a three-way tie for first with the Crew and Real Salt Lake after a recent spell of poor form.