• Wednesday Oct 24, 2012

    CCL: Central American Wrap-up (Week 4)

    It was a week to remember for several Central American teams participating in the CONCACAF Champions League, with the work of the Guatemalan clubs in particular standing out.

    Real Esteli also enjoyed a memorable night at home in northern Nicaragua, though the round ended with early elimination for the Nicaraguan champion, as it did for five other Central Americans teams in action last week.

    Below, we take a look back at the latest CCL results for the region's teams, and take stock of how the groups could play out for the Central American representatives still in the fight to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League.

    Group 1
    Playing in San Salvador, Aguila dropped its third-consecutive CCL match by multiple goals, and a second straight to Mexican side Santos Laguna. The host fought bravely for 45 minutes, but eventually succumbed to the pressure of the Mexican champion and fell, 4-0. The Guerreros got two goals from 19-year-old Jesus Escoboza and another from defender Aaron Galindo before Marc Crosas finished the scoring from the spot.

    Though the writing may have been on the wall after Aguila dropped its first two matches by a combined score of 10-1, the result confirms the Salvadorans' elimination from the CCL with one match still to play, against Toronto FC next Tuesday, also in San Salvador.

    Group 2
    Tauro was within just minutes of securing its first points of the CCL campaign, before a penalty conversion in second half stoppage time sent it to a 1-0 defeat in Panama City. The Toros had several opportunities to take a wide open match against Real Salt Lake in the final half hour, with both teams needing the victory to bolster their chances of a place in the quarterfinals.

    At the death, goalkeeper Vladimir Villarreal took down forward Alvaro Saborio, doing in the Panamanians' already slim hopes of progressing. Group 2 will now come down to a final match showdown between Herediano and Real Salt Lake in October, though the Costa Ricans have a chance to gain the advantage heading into that clash when they host Tauro next week.

    Group 3
    FAS failed to improve on its past CCL performances in its visit to Houston, falling for a third-straight time, 4-0 to the Dynamo. The result eliminated the Salvadorans from the competition, though they're still set to host Olimpia next week in San Salvador, in a game that will represent a chance for the Hondurans to catch the Dynamo at the top of Group 3. The Lions and Houston will settle matters on Oct. 23 in Texas.

    Group 4
    In a back and forth encounter in San Pedro Sula, the Seattle Sounders snatched a late win over host Marathon to secure a spot in next year's quarterfinals -- the first club to do so. Sammy Ochoa put the visitors ahead early, but Mario Berrios equalized on a penalty kick. Eddie Johnson once again gave Seattle the lead early in the second half, only for Berrios to convert a second spot kick. But a late Brad Evans header gave Seattle all the points, putting them on nine to Marathon's one in the group.

    That means there will be only pride to play for next week when Trinidadian team Caledonia A1A visits San Pedro, as well as next month, when Marathon heads north to Seattle for the group finale.

    Group 5
    The Central American team in Group 5 wasn't in action this week, but Isidro Metapan did get some good news when the Puerto Rico Islanders held the LA Galaxy to a scoreless tie in the Caribbean.

    The draw keeps the Salvadoran side more than alive with two matches to play. But before dreaming about knocking off the Galaxy at home next month to secure a quarterfinal spot, it will need to lock down a crucial three points from next week's match in Puerto Rico with the already eliminated, but always dangerous, Islanders.

    Group 6
    Real Esteli battled Mexico's Tigres tooth and nail Tuesday night in a bid to secure its first-ever CCL win and stay alive in the competition, but the Nicaraguans couldn't quite make a Juan Ramon Barrera goal -- off a corner kick in the 53rd minute -- stand up. Tigres youth teamer Jorge Espericueta, of 2011 U-17 World Cup fame, came on for his pro debut and notched the equalizer in the 90th minute, eliminating Real Esteli.

    The draw leaves things very much up in the air in Group 6, with the Nicaraguan side set to visit Costa Rica next week to play Alajuelense. The Costa Ricans will then travel to Monterrey to face Tigres on October 24th in a match that will determine the outcome of the group no matter the result next week in Alajuela.

    Group 7
    In a battle of Central American sides in Guatemala City, Municipal obtained a labored victory over its Panamanian visitors to maintain a chance of advancing to the quarterfinals. Chorrillo was eliminated with the 2-1 loss, even though it scored in the first minute of play at the Estadio Mateo Flores.

    A late Leandro Barrios goal proved the difference, and allows Municipal to keep destiny in its own hands. The Rojos need a win by two goals or more next Tuesday night in Mexico to assure qualification, and knock out the defending champion. Chorrillo will wrap up its CCL campaign in October, when Monterrey visits Panama.

    Group 8
    Perhaps the best news of the round for Central America's Champions League representatives came from Quetzaltenango, where Xelajú extended its lead over Guadalajara to four points in Group 8 with an electric 3-2 win over visiting W Connection. The home team took the lead twice, as early as the fourth minute, only to see the Trinidadians fight back to tie on both occasions, before Fredy Taylor's 76th minute handed the Superchivos all three points.

    The Guatemalans will now watch as Chivas visits eliminated W Connection in Trinidad next week, before an October showdown in Guadalajara likely to decide which team advances from Group 8.

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