• Friday Jun 01, 2012

    Monterrey to return for third CCL title try



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    Two-time defending champion Monterrey will return to the CONCACAF Champions League next season for a try at a third consecutive title, having advanced to the Mexican Clausura finals.

    The championship series against Santos Laguna - in Monterrey on Wednesday and at Santos on Saturday - will be a rematch of the Champions League finals in April.

    "Los Rayados" will attempt to claim a third Mexican title in three years and a fifth overall.

    Because Santos already has qualified for next season's Champions League - by virtue of its runner-up finish to Tigres in the Apertura season, "Los Guerreros'" advancement to the Mexican finals assures that either Chivas de Guadalajara or America of a berth in the confederation championship.

    Should Santos beat Monterrey for the Mexican Clausura crown, Chivas would claim Santos' Mexican Apertura runner-up spot as the team in the fall season with the best regular-season record. But if Monterrey wins, America would claim Santos' Clausura runner-up berth because of the best record in the spring season regular season behind Santos and Monterrey.

    The Central American leagues also narrowed their title chases.

    (View the list of teams already qualified for next season's Champions League.)


    In Honduras, Apertura champion Olimpia held Marathon to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of that country's finals on Saturday, with the second let set for Sunday. Both teams already are assured of berths in the Champions League, Olimpia as Apertura champion and Marathon either as Clausura champion or as the team with the most points over both seasons.

    In Costa Rica, Herediano used two second-half goals from Victor Nunez to rally past Santos de Guapiles 4-2 on Saturday in the first leg of the Verano finals. Herediano is seeking its first title since 1993 and both are looking to join Inveirno champion Alajuelense in the Champions League.

    In Guatemala, Municipal and Xelaju will face off for the Clausura title, both having advanced with semifinal victories on Sunday. Municipal won 2-1 at Comunicaciciones while Xelaju drew 1-1 at Marquense to complete a 2-1 aggregate victory. Municipal already has qualified to the Champions League as the Apertura champion, and a Clausura title would award Guatemala's second berth to Comunicaciones, the team with the best regular-season record over both seasons.

    In Panama, the Clausura title will be decided Friday between Chepo and Tauro, who reached the final with results on Saturday. Tauro defeated Sporting San Miguelito 1-0 for a 2-0 aggregate victory, while Chepo held Arabe Unido to a 0-0 draw to complete a 1-0 aggregate win. Friday's winner will join Apertura winner Chorrillo in the Champions League.

    In Nicaragua, Real Esteli beat Diriangen 3-0 on Sunday in the first leg of the Clausura finals, and will face off again Saturday in the second leg. Esteli already has clinched the Champions League berth from Nicaragua as the team with the best record over the two seasons.

    The weekend results mean 16 berths already have been secured for next season's Champions League, with eight more still pending, including all three from the Caribbean as well as Canada's lone spot.

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