By Dylan Butler
Eleven-time Mexican league champion CD Guadalajara is set to make its CONCACAF Champions League debut Tuesday, and it will begin with at least a little momentum.
After a winless start in four league games, Chivas has Saturday's 1-0 win over San Luis to take with it when heads to Guatemala for its Group 8 opener against Xelaju at Estadio Mario Camposeco.
It's a victory that came with the side getting back the services of midfielders Marco Fabian and Jorge Enriquez, as well as defender Miguel Ponce from the Mexican squad that won Olympic gold in London.
Fabian, who had a quality chance early in the match, set up Carlos Fierro's winner in the first league win since Johan Cruyff joined the club as an adviser late last season.
"The whole group was stronger, confidence is now good, as in the first four weeks," Van't Schip said. "The first 30 minutes were played well and with many touches. After that San Luis was well adapted to our game. They also played a bit differently in the second half.
"As in the first four weeks, however, now after winning three points, it's important for the morale of the group to go back to work on our play."
Xelaju comes into Tuesday's match with a pair of wins and a pair of draws since playing W Connection to a 2-2 draw in its Champions League opener on August 2 at Manny Ramjohn Stadium - where it rallied with two Edgar Chinchilla goals in the final 16 minutes.
The side climbed to fifth place in the Guatemalan Apertura after Israel Silva scored twice and Chinchilla added another goal for Xelaju in a 3-2 win over Halcones FC on Saturday.
Also on Tuesday, Real Salt Lake will look to recover from a 1-0 loss at Herediano on July 31 when the American club hosts Tauro at Rio Tinto Stadium.
RSL has lost four straight since a 2-1 win over Vancouver on July 27, including a 2-1 defeat to FC Dallas Saturday in Sandy, Utah, which saw several starters on the bench ahead of the CONCACAF Champions League match Tuesday.
"Hopefully the one thing we gained out of tonight was some rest for a couple of our players so they're fresh and ready to go come Tuesday night," Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said.
Tauro ended a two-game winless slide Saturday, beating Atletico Chiriqui 1-0 on a goal by Edwin Aguillar with eight minutes remaining.
Last year's Champions League runner-up Santos Laguna will play its first Group 1 match Tuesday, hosting CD Aguila at Estadio Corona.
A favorite in Group 1, Santos Laguna is winless in three games - not counting a 2-1 loss in a club friendly to Real Madrid on August 5. It most recent defeat was 2-1 to Pumas on Saturday, allowing a pair of goals by Emanuel Villa before Daniel Luduena was able to reply for Santos.
Despite the skid, coach Benjamin Galindo isn't ready to call it a crisis.
"No, that's when we must stay calm. (Saturday) we faced a good team, there is no difference and we must continue to stay that calm, to be objective in the analysis and keep working," Galindo said. "This team will leave no doubt, through the squad that I have, by the people of experience, the talent we have, the will and desire, I know we will succeed."
Aguila was overwhelmed by Toronto FC 5-1 in its group opener August 21 and goes on the road for a second straight match. It has relied on defense so far this season in the Salvadoran first division, allowing a league-low four goals in six games.
Despite having scored only one goal or less in its last two matches, it is in fourth place in the Salvadoran first division, one point out of the lead after playing fellow Champions League qualifier CD FAS to a goalless draw Saturday night.