By Dylan Butler
Municipal and Monterrey have one thing in common in the CONCACAF Champions League - an opening win over Chorrillo in Group 7.
Now the group co-leaders will clash Wednesday night at Estadio Mateo Flores with the winner taking sole possession of first place midway through the Group Stage.
Monterrey, the two-time defending champion, beat Chorrillo 5-0 in its opening game on July 31 and Municipal rallied for a 2-1 win in Panama City on goals by Luis Rodriguez and Josimar Arias in the final 11 minutes of regulation last week.
Los Rayados enters Wednesday's clash with the momentum of Sunday's 2-1 win over fellow CONCACAF Champions League participant Chivas in Guadalajara, rallying from an early deficit with two goals from Chilean international Humberto Suazo.
Suazo, who has failed to come to terms with Monterrey on a new contract past this season, came off the bench for Monterrey, which is now unbeaten in five matches in all competitions, dating back to a 1-0 loss to Morelia on July 27.
"He is a professional, today that was demonstrated again on the field as he answered with two goals," Monterrey coach Victor Manuel Vucetich said.
Municipal fell to Halcones 2-0 on the Sunday in Week 9 of the Guatemalan Apertura, but coach Javier Delgado rested his first team in preparation for Wednesday's showdown in Guatemala City.
The LA Galaxy will have revenge on their mind as they host the Puerto Rico Islanders Wednesday at The Home Depot Center with a chance to move ahead of idle Metapan and into sole possession of first place in Group 5.
Los Angeles, which fell to Puerto Rico in the Preliminary Round in the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League, defeated FC Dallas 2-0 Sunday at HDC.
The Galaxy are unbeaten in their last four matches, including three wins, mostly through the foot of Juninho, who has five goals over the past two weeks - including a pair against Metapan and Sunday's winner.
"Confidence" is the key, the Brazilian told MLSsoccer.com. "It's the confidence right now to keep going forward … The confidence that I have, and everything just plays off of that."
Puerto Rico, which fell to Municipal 3-1 in its opening game of the Group Stage, played the Tampa Bay Rowdies to a 0-0 draw on Saturday at Al Lang Stadium.
Islanders coach Adrian Whitbread said his team is excited about a chance to play Los Angeles, but is wary of calling it the biggest game of the season.
"We're just trying to treat it like any other game," Whitbread told the team's official site. "Obviously the players will know it's a big game, playing the Los Angeles Galaxy with their superstar players, but we're going to try to keep an even keel about it.
"We're ready for it. The boys are very excited, they've been looking at this fixture for a very long time."
Perhaps the biggest surprise thus far in the Group Stage is that Guadalajara is sitting in last place in Group 8 after a loss to Xelaju on August 21 in Quetzaltenango heading into Wednesday night's match against W Connection.
Guadalajara's record of one win in seven games this season has some questioning manager John van't Schip, but Todd Beane, the president the sports institute of Chivas team adviser Johan Cruyff Institute, said Van't Schip's job is safe.
"John remains as team manager and players must understand," he told ESPN's Jorge Ramos. "There is no magic process here. Wait for Van't Schip's work to grow. But people want everything fast."
W Connection had a 2-0 lead in its Group Stage opener, but conceded a pair of goals in the final 16 minutes to settle for a 2-2 draw with Xelaju on August 2.
W Connection's roster will be bolstered by the return of veteran defender Elijah Joseph, who was sidelined with an ankle injury, and Surinamese striker Stephano Rijssel, who missed the Xelaju match because of a paperwork snafu.
This will be the third meeting between Chivas and W Connection. The Trinidadian side won 2-1 at Manny Ramjohn Stadium in the first leg of the 2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinals before Chivas claimed the second leg 3-0 to advance.