TOLUCA, Mexico – The sixth edition of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) commences this evening with two games – Toluca v Caledonia AIA (8 p.m. ET) and Luis Angel Firpo v Club Tijuana (10 p.m. ET) – and, for the first time in recent memory, a team other than Monterrey will lift the trophy at the end of it all.
The Mexican side failed to qualify for the 2013-14 edition of the competition after winning three straight titles. Plus, since the other past champions -- Atlante and Pachuca – also did not qualify, a first-time champion is assured of capturing the crown.
Here’s a glance at tonight’s matches:
TOLUCA v CALEDONIA (Toluca, Mexico – Estadio Nemesio Diez -- 8 p.m. ET)
It is the first-ever CCL meeting between the sides. Toluca is making its third CCL appearance and first since 2010-11, when it to the quarterfinals before falling to Monterrey 2-0 on aggregate. Caledonia AIA made its competition debut last season, posting a draw and three losses in four games.
What to watch for?
Though Toluca has lost four of its five CCL games, it has won three of its last four in the competition at home. It is 2-0-0 in the CCL against Trinidadian opposition. Can that streak be extended against Caledonia AIA?
Kareem Joseph is Caledonia’s leading scorer CCL with two goals. Will he add to that total against against a Toluca side that has conceded only five goals in nine all-time CCL matches at home.
LUIS ANGEL FIRPO v CLUB TIJUANA (San Salvador, El Salvador – Estadio Cuscatlan -- 10 p.m. ET)
It is the first-ever CCL meeting between the clubs. Luis Angel Firpo is participating for a third time in the competition, but first since the 2009-10 edition. Club Tijuana is making its CCL debut, qualifying by virtue of winning the 2012 Mexican Apertura.
What to watch for?
Luis Angel Firpo has never lost at home in the CCL with one win and three draws in four games. It faced Mexican opposition at San Salvador’s Estadio Cuscatlan on Oct. 9, 2008, drawing 1-1 with Pumas. Can the Pamperos extend their home unbeaten streak?
Club Tijuana advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 Copa Libertadores, before falling to eventual champion Atletico Mineiro of Brazil (3-3 on aggregate, Atletico Mineiro advanced on away goals rule). How will the Xolos perform in a CONCACAF competition.