CCL 2012-13 Qualifiers: One More Step
Posted on May 9, 2012 9:08 pm
I should start this entry by apologizing for having let the second matchday in Group Five of the CFU Club Champions Cup slip under the radar. Unfortunately, the end of the (graduate) school semester got in the way of what, I can assure you, is much more enjoyable work here; so before we go into the playoff matches taking place in Canada, Mexico and Central America over the next two days, here is a quick recap of yesterday’s action. Antigua Barracuda slipped up and tied Victory of Haiti 0-0, a result that leaves in doubt their advancement to the final round (which, as I mentioned previously, could take place in familiar surroundings for the squad). The second match featured hosts W Connection pummeling Inter Moengotapoe of Suriname 6-0, putting themselves firmly on top of the group and close to possibly qualifying for the CCL this week, if the results on Matchday 3 fall in their favor.
Since the last matches in Trinidad and Tobago are scheduled for Thursday, we will get to them after covering tonight’s action, which will begin up in Canada with the match currently in progress (at the time of writing) between Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact. In spite of their status as winners of the last three Voyageurs’ Cups, Toronto are completely drained of confidence heading into the second leg of this semifinal series, having followed the best-ever Champions League run for a Canadian club by setting the record for the worst start in Major League Soccer history (with eight straight losses). Montreal are well-aware, however, that Toronto will look to overthrow their biggest rivals as a means of restarting their current season. Mind you, following the 0-0 draw at the Olympic Stadium last week, Toronto simply need to win in order to advance; a 1-1 tie or higher favors Montreal (on away goals), as well as a first-ever win at BMO Field for the visitors. A second-straight scoreless tie will send the series into overtime, during which the away-goals rule will still be in effect.
Later, at 10:00 p.m. tonight (all times EST), América will host the first leg of their Mexican Clausura semifinal series with Monterrey. John Jagou has already provided a more in-depth preview of this match, so I will simply add a curiosity from a regional angle: in seven out of eight scenarios for the Clausura Final, América qualify for the next CCL. At the same time, in seven out of eight scenarios for the Clausura Final, the rayados qualify for the next CCL. In fact, the only way that either miss out on continental play is if the other team reaches the Final and subsequently falls to Santos Laguna…in which case, Chivas will qualify instead.
The last match for today is unlikely to generate as much emotion as the others: the Vancouver Whitecaps will kick off the second leg of their semifinal series with FC Edmonton (at 11:00 p.m.) holding a 2-0 lead, which could have been extended to blowout territory last week if the MLS side had not lost steam in the second half. A second win, draw or a one-goal loss will seal Vancouver’s return to the Canadian Championship Final, while an improbable two-goal win for FC Edmonton will either send the match into overtime (with a 2-0 score) or hand them the series on away goals (3-1 or more).
Back in the Caribbean, the CFU Club Champions Cup second-round group taking place in Trinidad and Tobago will finish up with a double-header tomorrow afternoon. First, at 5:30 p.m., Victory will need to…well, live up to their name as they take on Inter Moengotapoe, with Total Mix Radio providing Creole-language audio coverage of the match. Later, at 7:30 p.m., hosts W Connection will take on Antigua Barracudas; if the Trini club wins, Victory win and the Haitians overtake Antigua on goal difference, then W Connection will qualify for the CCL by default. That is, since the top three “professional” teams (between Antigua Barracuda, W Connection, Caledonia AIA and the Puerto Rico Islanders) will reach the Champions League, the failure of one of them to reach the CFU Final Round will guarantee continental play for the others that do make it, with a possible tiebreaker needed if two or more fall at the current stage.
Later, at 9:00 p.m., the Mexican 2011 Apertura Final will rehash itself a round early, as defending-champion Tigres host Santos Laguna at the Volcan in Monterrey. I presume that most observers would want the more offensive-minded guerreros to advance; but Monterrery and América will be more than happy to see Ricardo “Tuca” Ferreti’s side bus-park their way to the Final, since Tigres would guarantee Champions League participation for both of them, as well as a top seed for whoever they face in the Clausura championship.
Finally, the Guatemalan semifinals will begin at 10:00 p.m., featuring a pair of rivalry showdowns.
Out in Quetzaltenango, Xelaju will attempt to return to the CCL after a brief cameo in 2010, as they host their rivals Marquense (at least, if what I heard from the Canal 7 commentators on Sunday is correct). The clásico nacional will probably steal all the headlines, however, with defending-champions Municipal receiving Comunicaciones in the first leg. While domestic pride will be at stake, Municipal have extra motivation to win their second-straight championship, since any other result in the Guatemalan Clausura playoffs will force them to enter the next Champions League at the lowest seed in what will surely be considered a Group of Death.
CCL 2012-13 Qualifiers
1. Seattle Sounders [USA2]
2. LA Galaxy [USA1]
3. Real Salt Lake [USA4]
4. Houston Dynamo [USA3]
5. Chorrillo FC [PAN1 or PAN2]
6. Santos Laguna [MEX2 or MEX3]
7. Tigres UANL [MEX1]
8. Olimpia [HON1 or HON2]
9. Isidro Metapán [SLV1]
10. Municipal [GUA1 or GUA2]
11. LD Alajuelense [CRC1 or CRC2]
12. Real Estelí [NCA]
13. Águila [SLV2]
14. FAS (SLV) [BLZ]
15. Marathón [HON1 or HON2]