CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals Preview


The CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals begin on March 5th continuing through to March 13th.  The Houston Dynamo host Santos Laguna tonight at 8 pm EST at BBVA Compass Stadium.  The following night Seattle travels to play Liga MX leaders Tigres.  On March 7th the final Major League Soccer team will be in action as the Los Angeles Galaxy travel to Herediano.  No MLS team has ever won the Champions League.  Could this be the year?  Here is a look at the quarterfinal match ups.

Mar 2, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark (13) points at defender Warren Creavalle (5) after the Dynamo score a goal in the second half against D.C. United at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston V Santos Laguna

Houston is coming off a two goal victory in the first week of MLS action having been league runner-up two years in a row.  Santos Laguna and Herculez Gomez come off a 3-1 victory over Chiapas in which Gomez had two goals and one assist.  Houston has played well against Mexican competition, but Santos Laguna have only allowed six goals in nine league matches.  Gomez and Laguna are confident.

"We respect them, but we do not fear them."

Santos Laguna has struggled to score, but twice last year scored six against MLS competition.  Houston made it to this stage playing a lot of reserves, so it is unclear what team Dominick Kinnear will field for the Dynamo.  Perhaps timing will play into this with Santos having more time together as a team in league play, but the Dynamo roster did not have much shake up.  If Kinnear fields a reserve team, this could be humiliating.  However the Dynamo coach commented that the gap is closing beween Mexican and MLS teams so they may be going for it now.  The return match will be March 13.

Seattle V Tigres

This one is lopsided on paper especially after the Sounders loss this past weekend.  Tigres are ahead in Liga MX by one point with Jose Torres starting most matches.  They were held to a draw by Morelia this past weekend.  Still Tigres have to be the favorite in the overall tournament, not just to advance past Seattle. They have yet to lose a game in the Mexica Primera Division over nine matches.  However they are dealing with an injury to Emanuel Villa and their last three home games have ended in draws.

Seattle will have to regroup after not finding their attack this past weekend.  Seattle swept their group to get here, but their midfield was not composed defensively against Montreal.  The Sounders want to win but will hit the road right away for one of their toughest matches of the entire calendar year.  Eddie Johnson will have to be better as the Sounders try to gel with a slightly different roster.  Osvaldo Alonso should return.  This could be a game that Seattle settles back and hopes for a counter attack.  If they can get back to Seattle with a draw it will be in their best interest.

Los Angeles V Herediano

It is evident that the Galaxy figured out the attacking game in the offseason led by Mike Magee and Robbie Keane.  They may not see this as a strong opponent and use some reserve team players as Bruce Arena did in the group stage.  They should get more width than their counterparts saw in the group stage and all they need is a small space to take a shot.

Herediano is considered the lucky team in the final eight.  They took out Real Salt Lake, but many blamed the effort of the MLS side.  Still they only allowed one goal in the four matches.  In Costa Rican league play they have given up 15 goals in 10 matches and sit in the middle of the pack.  They can play the underdog card as not many are giving them a chance.

The final quarterfinal match up is Xelajú versus Monterrey.  The CCL changed to the current format in 2008.