[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] The third round of group play in the Concacaf Champions League includes three matchups of MLS teams with their Mexican League counterparts, as well a crucial road test for Seattle.
Good starts by all five MLS teams involved in the place great importance on their results this week.
Los Angeles, Colorado, FC Dallas, and Seattle all top their groups and Toronto FC has a chance to further taint UNAM’s rough season when it plays Pumas in Mexico City.
Here’s a look at the five CCL games involving MLS teams:
Morelia (1-1-0, 3 pts.) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (2-0-0, 6 pts.), 8 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer.
Now that the spell cast by Mexican teams playing MLS teams south of the border has been broken, naturally the Galaxy wants to join the party.
The return of goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who missed more than two months with a broken forearm before returning Friday in a 1-0 league win against Colorado, and the sharp form of the Galaxy back line gives L.A. reasonable hope of securing at least a point. It has scored four goals without conceding any in its two CCL group games, and has won five of six in all competitions. A 2-2 tie in Kansas City on Labor Day is its only blemish.
Morelia rebounded from a 1-0 loss to Alajuelense in its CCL opener to hammer Motagua, 4-0, last week. It blew open a 1-0 game with three second-half goals in 22 minutes and will be eager to join the Galaxy atop the group with another explosive display. It also revived its league campaign by edging Cruz Azul, 1-0, on Saturday following three straight losses. Joao Rojas scored in both victories.
Colorado (1-0-1, 4 pts.) vs. Santos Laguna (1-1-0, 3 pts.), 10 p.m., Fox Soccer.
The Rapids catch Santos Laguna at a good time; following its third straight loss in league play, the Mexican club fired Santos Laguna Diego Cocca after a third consecutive loss. Interim coach Eduardo Rergis, the director of the team's youth system, guided the team last weekend to a 1-1 tie at home with Guadalajara.
Former U.S. head coach Bob Bradley traveled to Torrejon last week to interview for the Santos job, but club officials have indicated ex-Mexican international Benjamin Galindo is the likely choice.
The Rapids opened CCL play by beating Isidro Metapan, 3-2 at home, with Macoumba Kandji scoring twice, and gained a point in their second game by tying Real Espana, 1-1, in Honduras, after taking the lead just before halftime with a crisp finish by Jeff Larentowicz. Colorado squandered the win when Real Espana equalized in the 87th minute.
Coach Gary Smith said Guadaloupe international defender Miguel Comminges, who signed last Friday, may see action against Santos.
FC Dallas (2-0-0, 6 pts.) vs. Tauro FC (0-1-1, 1 pt.), 8 p.m., Fox Soccer.
FCD plays its first CCL home game after an historic 1-0 triumph over UNAM in Mexico City and another victory by the same score against Toronto FC at BMO Field.
Several players labored Saturday in a 2-0 loss to New England; winger Marvin Chávez missed the game with an ankle injury, Ugo Ihemelu was suspended, and an exhausted Brek Shea came off at halftime. Coach Schellas Hyndman gave the team Monday off to recover and recharge for the CCL match and a league game against the Red Bulls Saturday.
Tauro got its point by holding UNAM to a 0-0 tie at home despite playing a man down for the last 62 minutes. It also lost at home to Toronto FC, 2-1, in its CCL opener, and is probably not well-equipped to face FCD, which by winning can inch very close to clinching a spot in the knockout phase.
UNAM (0-1-1, 1 pt). vs. Toronto FC (1-0-1, 3 pts.), 8 p.m., TeleFutura.
TFC travels south to play a proud Mexican team embarrassed by its home loss to FCD as well as failure to break down Tauro FC with a man advantage for more than an hour.
Yet Coach Aron Winter’s men are coming off one of the best results in team history, a 4-2 thumping of the Crew in Columbus. Goals by four different players sparked TFC to that victory, so there will be momentum for the underdog that has recorded eight points in its last five league matches.
UNAM started the league smartly by winning three and tying two in its first five games but since then has lost 2-1 to Puebla away and Cruz Azul by the same score at home prior to being thrashed, 4-0, at Queretaro. UNAM is the heavyweight here, but TFC’s recent revival and counterattacking ability make this not quite the mismatch it may seem to be.
Herediano (0-2-0, 0 pts.) vs. Seattle (2-0-0, 6 pts.), 10 p.m., Fox Soccer.
After losing at home to Real Salt Lake, 2-1, Saturday, the Sounders headed to Costa Rica but took a detour en route to get in a pair of training sessions at Pizza Hut Park. In a 4-1 thumping of Comunicaciones at CenturyLink Field and a 1-0 upset victory against defending champion Monterrey, the Sounders have displayed both the offensive firepower and defensive resilience required by this competition.
Herediano has failed to score in two embarrassing CCL defeats: 5-0 in Monterrey, and 2-0 at home against Comunicaciones. It faces probable elimination with a loss, and with the teams meeting again in Seattle next week, the Sounders know they can possibly clinch over the next two games by playing tight and waiting for mistakes.