• Tuesday Jul 03, 2012

    Aguila confirms CCL berth with title win

    Aguila won its 15th Salvadoran league title on Sunday, beating Apertura champion Metapan 2-1 to claim the Clausura crown and reaffirm its place in next season's CONCACAF Champions League.

    The club already had been assured of a place in the 24-team field along with Metapan and FAS, guaranteed a spot when El Salvador was awarded a third berth - the place normally reserved for Belize which was disqualified because of the lack of an appropriate stadium.

    The three brought to 13 the number of teams already qualified for next year's competition, which begins July 31. Aguila is one of two first-time qualifiers for next season's Champions League, which was launched in 2008, joining Panama's Chorillo.

    The rest of Latin America narrowed its potential Champions League qualifiers as Mexico and its Central American neighbors worked their way through the respective league playoffs.

    In Mexico, two-time defending champion Monterrey led America, Santos and Tigres into the semifinals.

    Monterrey will face America in the semifinals on Wednesday and Saturday, and Tigres and Santos - which already have clinched CCL berths due to their championship and runner-up finish in the Apertura - will meet in the other series Thursday and Sunday.

    Monterrey drew 2-2 with Tijuana Saturday to complete a 4-3 aggregate victory in the quarterfinals; while America lost 1-0 to Pachuca but still advanced 3-2. On Sunday, Santos beat Jaguares 2-1 to complete a 6-3 aggregate win and Tigres won 4-1 at Morelia to finish a 5-1 victory.

    With Tigres and Santos already guaranteed CCL berths next season and one of them is assured of reaching the Clausura finals, their CCL berth would be determined by a formula outlined by the Mexican Football Federation last week.

    Should Tigres repeat as champion, Monterrey - which had the best record in the Clausura regular season after Santos - would take its second berth essentially as the Mexican Clausura winner. If Monterrey would lose in the finals, the runner-up slot would go to the team with the second-best record in the Clausura regular season - America.

    Similarly, if Tigres finishes runner-up in the Clausura playoffs, Monterrey would claim that CCL berth. However, if Monterrey would beat Tigres in the finals, America would claim the Clausura runner-up CCL berth.

    However, if Santos wins the title, its Apertura runner-up berth in the CCL would be awarded to Chivas de Guadalajara, the team with the best record in the Apertura regular season. And if Santos repeats as the runner-up, that spot would go to Monterrey.

    If Monterrey would beat Santos for the title, the Clausura runner-up spot would go to America.

    In Central America…

    Honduran Apertura champion Olimpia will face off against Marathon for the Clausura title beginning Saturday. Already guaranteed a fifth straight Champions League appearance, Olimpia defeated Real Espana 5-0 on Saturday to complete a 6-0 aggregate win. Marathon, seeking a fourth appearance in the Champions League in five years defeated Motagua 2-0 after a 0-0 first leg draw.

    In Costa Rica, Herediano will face Santos the Costa Rican Invierno finals beginning next weekend. Herediano defeated Perez Zeledon 2-0 on Sunday to advance on a 3-1 aggregate. Santos and Saprissa tied 1-1 on aggregate but Santos advanced due to its higher finish in the regular season standings. The winner will join Verano winner Alajuelense in next season's Champions League.

    Guatemala's Clausura playoffs have reached the semifinals where Xelajú will face Deportivo Marquense, and Municipal will meet Comunicaciones. Xelaju defeated Heredia 6-2 in the second leg of their quarterfinal series on Sunday to complete a 7-4 win, while Municipal defeated 3-0 Suchitepequez to overcome a 2-1 loss in the first leg.

    With Municipal already having clinched place in the Champions League for having won the Apertura, if it repeats, Comunicaciones will qualify as the team with the most points over both seasons.

    And in Panama, Tauro opened up the Clausura semifinals Panama with a 1-0 win over Sporting de San Miguelito. Later Sunday, Chepo beat Arabe Unido 1-0 in the other semifinal. The second legs will be played Saturday at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

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