CCL 2011-12 Qualifiers: Alajuelense, Take 2; and River Plate May Be Coming to a City Near You

Posted on April 15, 2011 5:01 pm

In an earlier post, I mentioned that the majority of the articles in The Regional Review would take the form of “Round-ups” keeping track of movement towards Champions League qualification all over CONCACAF. Because of the considerable overlap in competitions here, however – the Portland Timbers recently won a US Open Cup play-in game en route to the 2012-13 CCL, while their Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps have yet to get started on the road to the 2011-12 edition – I will be sure to indicate which CCL qualifying I’m covering in each of these posts. The general rule of thumb here is to give thorough coverage to tournaments once teams get within two stages of qualification (the semifinals, in the US Open Cup’s case), in order to avoid this very blog cluttering itself with overlap.

Having said that, the only update that could take place on the list of 2011-12 CCL Qualifiers (at the end of this post) again involves Alajuelense’s opportunity to go straight to the group stages of next year’s tournament. On Sunday, their last remaining potential challenger for the CRC1 spot, Herediano, heads to Limon with a two-goal lead from the first leg last week. That game will take place at 4:00pm (Eastern Standard); later, Alajuelense will host Perez Zeledon at the Morera Soto at 6:30pm. Because the Costa Rican league also gives a tie in the playoffs to the higher seed (except for the final), the manudos only need a draw to move on to the semifinals; however, if they win, or Herediano fails to do so in the Caribbean, Alajuelense will have successfully avoided the preliminaries for the next CCL.

Also, this weekend will produce the first team to make it to the semifinals of the CFU Club Championship. Yes, Trinidad and Tobago’s Defence Force tore Milerock to shreds in Guyana, but the second leg of that particular series will have to wait for next Friday. Meanwhile, this Friday and Sunday (according to the CFU’s own schedule), Guyana’s Alpha United will enjoy the honor of hosting two games against the one, the only, RIVER PLATE.

…no, not that River Plate.

The Argentine club’s sister/farm team in Puerto Rico, referred to here as River Plate FC, is the defending champion of the Puerto Rican Super-Copa (recognized by FIFA as the island’s joint national league, along with the Puerto Rican Soccer League). That qualified them for the CFU Championship; and after defeating the Cayman Islands’ Bodden Town 2-1 on aggregate, the team will be playing tonight at 8:00pm and Sunday at 3:00pm (local time) in two different venues in Guyana.

Now you may ask: why did River Plate FC pass up on playing its home leg in Puerto Rico? According to the club’s official website:

Translation:

This also means, then, that if River lite were to qualify for the CCL, it would have to play home games at the Juan Ramon Loubriel (the Puerto Rico Islanders’ “Cemetery”) until its own stadium is ready and receives CONCACAF approval.

Under the circumstances, the CFU has apparently waived the away-goals rule for the series:

Translation: it is worth mentioning that in this case there is no “counting double” with respect to away goals.

Also, futbolboricua.net, dedicated to all things Puerto Rican soccer, claims that the semifinal matchups are already set:

So far, I have not seen any confirmation from the CFU or CONCACAF for this. But if that is the case, then the other half of the bracket could lead to a semi-final blockbuster in Trinidad between old hands Defence Force and the current Caribbean kings, the Puerto Rico Islanders.

If I get word from one of the Puerto Rican BigSoccer members on where to catch the River Plate FC – Alpha United games, I will pass on the information here. Or, if you have a thousand (Guyanese) dollars lying around and find yourself in the region, you can grab a ticket to the games themselves.

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSo0FrNZ-KY"]YouTube – Alpha vs River Plate Football Ad[/ame]

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