SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- When the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) is completed next month, Cartagines and Isidro Metapan might look back at their scoreless draw on Wednesday as a missed opportunity.
One point may have lifted Cartagines (1-1-1, 4 points) into first place in Group 8, but the LA Galaxy (1-0-0, 3 points) lurks close behind and has two games in hand. Only the group winners advance to the competition’s quarterfinal stage.
Metapan (0-1-1, one) got its first point after falling to the Costa Ricans, 4-2, earlier in the month in the tournament opener for each. The seven-time Salvadoran champion, though, has lost twice to the Galaxy in two all-time CCL encounters, both played last year, by a combined score of 8-4.
The game at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose might have been considered a moral victory for Metapan, which broke a four-game CCL road losing streak, a stretch over which it surrendered 22 goals.
Late in the first half, the Salvadorans produced a chance to break the stalemate. Nicolas Munoz, who has scored seven of his team's last nine CCL goals, sent a forceful header from point-blank range toward the Cartagines net, but goalkeeper Wardy Alfaro made the save.
The Blues had their moment after Metapan's Miton Molina fouled Paolo Jimenez in the penalty area in the 52nd minute. Referee Trevor Taylor (Barbados) pointed to the penalty spot, but Randall Brenes launched his effort high over the goal.
Cartagines has one game remaining on its CCL schedule. A meeting against the visiting Galaxy on September 25 could play an important role in determining the group champion.
Metapan returns to action at LA on September 18, needing a win to avoid elimination.