• Monday May 24, 2010

    Toluca returns to CCL Group Stage

    NEW YORK -- Toluca will return to the Group Stage of the CONCACAF Champions League along with fellow Mexican side Monterrey, claiming the spot with a 4-3 victory on penalties in the Mexican Clausura finals over Santos Laguna.

    Santos, which led 3-0 in the penalty shootout at one point, will be relegated to entering at the Preliminary Round phase against San Juan Jabloteh of Trinidad. Both teams had secured places in the third annual Champions League with their advancement to the Mexican Clausura finals last week.

    The two teams drew 0-0 in both legs of the Clausura finals, requiring the penalties Saturday to decide the title and the Group Stage berth. Toluca will play in Group D along with Olimpia of Honduras, the winner between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Puerto Rico Islanders and the victory between Xelaju of Guatemala and either CD FAS of El Salvador or another as-yet-undetermined Central American side.

    Metapan defeated Aguila 3-1 on Sunday for the Salvadoran Clausura title, provisionally laying claim to Salvador's second berth in the Champions League.

    El Salvador has been suspended by FIFA for interference in the soccer federation's affairs by the country's government, which has until June 8 to comply with the world body's requirement that it recognize the FIFA "normalizing committee" that has reorganized the national association. Otherwise, FIFA's suspension will be voted on by the FIFA Congress, and - if approved - would prohibit the country's teams from any international competition for at least one year.

    That would disqualify FAS and Metapan from the Champions League and they would be replaced.

    If the suspension is lifted, FAS would face Xelaju in the Preliminary Round and Metapan would take on the Seattle Sounders, with the winner of that series advancing to Group C to play Monterrey, Saprissa of Costa Rica and the winner between Tauro FC of Panama and Marathon of Honduras.

    Only one berth remains undecided in the 24-team Champions League . The Nutrilite Canadian Championship has essentially been reduced to Toronto FC and Vancouver, with the Whitecaps needing to win both of its remaining games - including the tournament finale against Toronto on June 2 - to claim the title. Anything short of a win for Vancouver in either game would give Toronto its second straight Voyagers Cup.

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