Article by Anders Aarhus
As the UEFA Champions League gets underway in
Europe, there’s still plenty of games
on this side of the pond. With four MLS sides in action, here’s a look at
what’s ahead this week in the CONCACAF Champions League.
*Home teams listed first
defeated Tauro on a late penalty
kick by Alvaro Saborio] Real Salt Lake
A win for RSL would leave them tied atop the group on six points and set up a group-deciding game against Herediano in October. However, victory won’t come easy for the
side. Despite beating Tauro in its previous group meeting, RSL will be without
captain Kyle Beckerman who is serving a red card suspension. The match will be
played in Panama
and Tauro will be desperate to avoid elimination in front of their home fans.
Jason Kreis has shown the willingness to grind out draws on the road in
CONCACAF and although a draw means RSL still controls its own destiny, a win
would take a lot of pressure off the side in the final group game. Real will
look to Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio to step up and lead the team to
READ: Tactical analysis of RSL’s match http://www.realsaltlake.com/blog/post/2012/09/18/tactical-preview-rsl-tauro
READ: RSL calling this game a must win http://www.mlssoccer.com/ccl/news/article/2012/09/17/ccl-rsl-take-comfort-knowing-task-hand-tauro
Xelaju vs. W Connection FC
[Editor's Note: Xelaju defeated W Connection in dramatic style]
The surprise team of the competition so far, Xelaju are atop the group after two rounds thanks to an upset win against Chivas and a draw against W Connection. Having secured a point on the road against the latter, Xelaju can take a stranglehold on the group with a win at home: three points and the Guatemalan side would only need a draw against Chivas to advance to the knockout rounds. For W Connection, they are still very much alive. A win would see the team take over the top spot while controlling its own destiny going forward. Last time the two teams met, the result was a thrilling 2-2 draw so it’s reasonable to expect more goals in this contest.
Real Esteli vs. Tigres
[Editor's Note: Tigres wins courtesy of a late goal]
Real Esteli has yet to score in Champions League play and chances of recording a first point against Tigres aren’t high. Although the Nicaraguans showed well in their last group game against Alajuelense, they were thrashed 4-0 in their previous match against Tigres. This match will be played in
which could make it a tricky fixture, but it’s hard not to see Tigres coming
away with at least a point, more likely three. A win by the Mexican side will
put the pressure on group co-leaders Alajuelense to keep pace.
A win virtually guarantees LA’s entry into the knockout rounds; a loss for PRI means they are out of the competition. It will be hard for the Galaxy to improve on last game’s five-goal effort, but the team sheet looks even stronger this time around. Edson Buddle is reportedly close to full fitness and could get the start while star forward Landon Donovan also figures to see time as he continues his return from a hamstring issue. A reserve-heavy lineup was enough to defeat
Puerto Rico the
last time these teams met and with the big guns returning for LA, there’s no
reason to expect any different this time around.
READ: LA Galaxy Insider with more on the clash http://www.lagalaxy.com/blog
READ: More info on
In the final game with an MLS representative, the Houston Dynamo will continue its campaign after securing a road point against Olimpia. With both road games out of the way
have a clear path to the knockout rounds, starting with a FAS team it beat 3-1
in the last meeting. Bolstered by a home environment the Dynamo should have no
problem taking all three points to set up a final showdown with fellow group
leader Olimpia next month. Recent signing Giles Barnes could make his first
start for Houston
after coming on as a substitute in the club’s last match.
READ: More info on
CCL run http://www.houstondynamo.com/ccl
Municipal vs. Chorrillo
The final match of the round sees Municipal taking on Chorrillo at home in a must-win game. Having already lost to defending champion and group leader
Municipal can’t afford to drop any points in the quest for the knockout rounds.
Chorrillo are winless and conceded five goals in their last road group game.
They’ll be hard pressed to do much better against a Municipal team fighting for
its life in front of the home fans.
MLS Outlook: All four sides in action have very winnable games. Although Seattle is the only team that can guarantee a spot in the knockout rounds, both the Galaxy and the Dynamo can put themselves in good positions to advance after the next round of games. RSL obviously has the most important game of the four due to its earlier loss. Winning in
without Kyle Beckerman is no easy task, but Kreis has the depth necessary and
anything other than three points will be viewed as a disappointment. A loss
deals a serious blow to RSL’s chances of making the knockout rounds. Toronto doesn’t play this
week, but will watch and hope for help from Aguila. Realistically they can’t
expect any assistance and, most likely facing a must-win game against Santos in Mexico,
their dreadful season looks like it will continue.