By Dylan Butler
The goal for DirecTV W Connection is clear. It must beat Xelaju at Estadio Mario Camposesco Tuesday night or be eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League.
"One of our main aspirations is to get to the final of the CONCACAF Champions League, believe it or not," W Connection goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams told ttproleague.com. "With this bunch of players that we have right now, we can get to the final. But…it's going to be tough."
The two teams battled to a 2-2 draw at Manny Ramjohn Stadium on August 2. W Connection led 2-0 on first-half goals by Hachim Arcia and Rennie Britto, but allowed a pair of goals by Edgar Chinchilla in the final 17 minutes and settled for the draw. Xelaju followed with a 1-0 victory over Guadalajara on August 21, while W Connection lost 4-0 to Chivas in Mexico eight days later.
The two enter the match in slightly different form. Xelaju, which leads CCL Group 8 with four points, has lost two of three, including Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Comunicaciones in the Guatemalan Apertura.
W Connection defeated Defence Force 2-0 Saturday at Manny Ramjohn in the inaugural Digicel Charity Shield match with its league season set for an October 2 start.
Besides the victory, the match was of special significance to Williams. The club donated $10,000 to Williams to aid in the recovery of his fiancé, Candice, who was assaulted in January and spent two months in an induced coma.
"I have to give a lot of credit to the chairman of the club, David John Williams and coach Stuart Charles Fevrier," Williams said. "They really helped me to manage between the football and the family. They bent over backwards, so to speak, to accommodate me at times when I wasn't able to be around. I try to be professional about it in every aspect and they respected that. They really helped me in coming through thus far."
Like W Connection, with two games remaining, the situation is just as dire for other teams as well.
Tauro FC has yet to score a goal in Group 2, losing to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium and group-leading Herediano 1-0 at home. The Panamanian side needs to win both of its remaining games to have any hope hopes of advancement alive.
That starts with beating Real Salt Lake at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City on Tuesday. Real Salt Lake, which won the first encounter 2-0, can move into a tie with Herediano with a win of its own.
That likely would set up a winner-take-all match between RSL and Herediano in Sandy, Utah on October 23. For Salt Lake, it is approaching Tauro as a desperate foe.
"It's my feeling that they're going to approach this game the way I would, which is they have to win. They're not dead yet," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "They have to beat us and they have to beat Herediano and they have to hope for some things to go right between Herediano and us, but I would expect that would be an ultra aggressive Tauro team Tuesday night."
Real Salt Lake, which hasn't played a competitive match since September 6, will be without captain and central midfielder Kyle Beckerman, who is serving a one-game ban for a straight red card in the home win over Tauro on August 21.
"Obviously he's an important player, but he's missed a lot of games the last few years," Ned Grabavoy said. "Whoever is called upon is going to have to step in and do the job and collectively we just have to move forward."
In Group 6, Real Estelí is another team that is goalless and facing the elimination with a loss to group leader UANL Tigres Tuesday night at Estadio Independencia in Managua.
It will be a rematch of Tigres' 4-0 win at Estadio Universitario on August 21, when four different players scored for UANL in the final 55 minutes.
Estelí also fell to Alajuelense, which is tied atop the group with UANL, though the Mexicans have a plus-three edge in goal difference.
UANL will head to Nicaragua bolstered Luis Garcia's two goals and a 2-0 win over Cruz Azul in the Mexican Apertura Saturday. Esteli is unbeaten in its last three in in the Nicaraguan league, but has drawn its last two and was held to a 0-0 draw by Juventus Managua on Saturday.