The Houston Dynamo and D.C. United on Wednesday begin their campaign to claim the CONCACAF Champions Cup for the USA for the third time. D.C. United, under then-coach Bruce Arena, won the 1998 crown. The Los Angeles Galaxy, then guided by Coach Sigi Schmid, took the crown in 2000.
Club America is the defending champ and its 2006 win marked the 22nd victory for a Mexican club since the competition's inception in 1962 to determine the top club of North and Central America and the Caribbean.
CONCACAF CHAMPIONS CUP, Quarterfinals, first leg.
PUNTARENAS (Costa Rica) vs. HOUSTON (MLS). 2006 MLS champion Houston makes its first appearance in an official international competition since it left San Jose after the 2005 season and turned into the Dynamo. Puntarenas was Costa Rican Clausura 2006 champion and won the Central American club championship, the Torneo Interclubes de UNCAF 2006, whose top four finishers qualified for the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinals. "I've seen four [Puntarenas] games [on DVD]," Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear told the Houston Chronicle. "It's a physical team that moves the ball fast from defenders to forwards. Both forwards are tall and physical in their game, but we want a challenge."
TV:Wednesday, live, Fox Soccer Channel & Fox Sports en Espanol 2:30 pm ET.
OLIMPIA (Honduras) vs. D.C. UNITED (MLS). The U.S. team's newest acquisition, the Brazilian striker Luciano Emilio, will face the club he just left, two-time Champions Cup winner and record 20-time Honduran league champ Olimpia. Emilio, 28, won two league titles with Olimpia and scored 91 goals for the club. "He's been with us now for what, two or three weeks, and it seems like he's been with us for two years," D.C. coach Tom Soehn told MLSnet.com. "He's fit in very well with our guys with his personality, and obviously the soccer part is very good. He's going to be an asset for us. I've really seen the guys now start to understand the way he plays, and how he fits into our system."
TV:Wednesday, live, Fox Soccer Channel 9 pm ET (delay on Fox Sports en Espanol at 11 pm ET).
PACHUCA (Mexico) vs. MARQUENSE (Guatemala). Pachuca has won all four of its Mexican league titles since 1999, its last coming with the Clausura 06, and won the Champions Cup once, in 2002. Marquense's best Guatemalan league finish was runner-up in the Clausura 06.
TV: Thursday, live, Fox Soccer Channel & Fox Sports en Espanol 9 pm ET.
Trinidad & Tobago's W Connection FC beat Chivas Guadalajara, 2-1, in their quarterfinal first leg Feb. 13. The second leg takes place Feb. 28 in Mexico.
The Champions Cup winner qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup. The runner-up qualifies for the Copa Sudamericana.
Click here for official rosters of CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinalists.