Notes: CONCACAF Champions League

These are the notes I put together while researching the CONCACAF Champions League preview up at Pro Soccer Talk. I’d recommend reading the one at NBC, but if you like bullet points and hate coherency, hey – maybe this is for you.

These are just meant to be notes – nothing formal. Most of this stuff didn’t appear in the piece I posted (possibly because I needed to do more follow up and couldn’t). Feel free to augment.

Format changes:

None of these are good:

  • The play-in stages are gone. All 24 qualifiers go straight into group stage.
  • Groups go from four-clubs-per to three. Implications:
    • Four group games instead of six.
    • One team per group will be off each week.
    • No U.S. and Mexico teams in the same group.
    • Only group winners go through, so
    • Expect randomness.
    • And on the last day of group stage, two teams will know what they need while the last will be on the sidelines, out of control.
  • Overall number of games drastically reduced.

Nothing says “we want to grow this competition” like hinting “why are we playing so many games” came up in the boardroom.

Groups

Listed by Pot drawn from (A, B, C):

      Santos Laguna (MEX), Toronto (CAN), Águila (SAL)
      Herediano (CRC), Real Salt Lake (USA), Tauro (PAN)
      Olimpia (HON), Houston Dynamo (USA), FAS (SAL)
      Seattle Sounders FC (USA), Marathón (HON), Caledonia AIA (TT)
      LA Galaxy (USA), Isidro Metapán (SAL), Puerto Rico Islanders (PR)
      Tigres (MEX), Alajuelense (CRC), Real Estelí (NIC)
      Chorrillo (PAN), Monterrey (MEX), Municipal (GUA)
      Xelajú (GUA), Chivas (MEX), W Connection (TT)

Hold on: Monterrey is a Pot B team?

The two-time defending champions are not a Pot A club. How is that even possible? The pots aren’t determined based on confederation performance, as they are in Europe. The eight Pot A slots are pass out among countries (2- Mexico, U.S.; 1 – Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala), with those slots won by winning specific honors. For example, in Mexico they go to the Apertura and Clausura champions, which were Tigres and Santos Laguna.

Notes on groups

Group 1

  • Santos won the Clausura and made last year’s final.
  • At the time of this writing, they’re 1-0-0 in the Apertura after an opening weekend win over San Luis.
  • One of the best attacks in the region: Oribe Peralta, Daniel Luduena, Carlos Quintero, Christian Suarez, Herculez Gomez.
  • Toronto set an MLS record for losses to start a season and replaced their coach.
  • Paul Marriner restored the team to respectability.
  • They’ll be without main goal scorer Danny Koevermans, who tore up his left knee two weeks ago.
  • Lost to Santos in spring’s semifinal.
  • Qualified by winning the Canadian Championship.
  • Águila are 2-0-1 to start El Salvador’s Apertura.
  • Upset Isidro Metapan in the Clausura final after finishing second during the qualification stage.
  • Panamanian forward Nicolas Muñoz and midfielder Osael Romero combined for 44 goals across El Salvador’s two tournaments last season. As a team, Águila scored 62 times in 36 games. Munoz has gone to Isidro Metapan.

Group 2

  • Herediano routed Santos de Guápiles 6-2 in May’s Verano final after losing on kicks of Alajuelense in the Invierno final.
  • Finished last in a deep Group D in last year’s competition.
  • Lost second-leading scorer Jose Cancela to Saprissa during the summer, leaving Victor Nunez (18 goals last season) as the team’s main attacking threat.
  • Other players to watch: Jose Cubero (M), Carlos Hernández (M)
  • Real Salt Lake made the finals in 2010 and did not qualify for the competition in 2011.
  • Main scorer is Costa Rican Alvaro Saborio, while their best player is Argentine Javier Morales.
  • Midfielder Kyle Beckerman and Will Johnson feature as internationals for their countries (United States, Canada).
  • Tauro has won their first two games of Panama’s Apertura, scoring five while allowing none.
  • Defeated Chepo in the Clausura final but failed to finish higher than fourth in either tournament.
  • Twenty-three year old forward Luis Renteria is a potential match-winner. He has 11 goals in 21 appearances for the national team.

Group 3

  • Olimpia is one of the few teams outside of Mexico that can claim to be a confederation power.
  • Had the misfortune of drawing Santos Laguna in last year’s play-ins, losing 4-3 over two legs.
  • Won both tournaments in 2011-12, allowing only one goal in 10 playoff matches.
  • Recently supplied Oscar Boniek Garcia to MLS/Houston.
  • Current home of D.C. United legend Luciano Emilio.
  • Have also brought in Brazilian journeyman Cristiano, who had successful runs in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Australia.
  • Traditional stronghold of Honduran national team talent, including Noel Valladares, Johnny Palacios, Brayan Beckeles, Juan Carlos Garcia, Alex López, Roger Rojas.
  • Houston Dynamo qualified by making the MLS Cup final.
  • Currently challenged at the top of MLS’s Eastern Conference.
  • Key players: Brad Davis and … their defense.
  • Did not play in last year’s competition
  • FAS has started 0-1-1 in their domestic league.
  • Failed to make last year’s competition
  • Players of note: Williams Reyes, Ricardo Ulloa, Edwin Sánchez

Group 4

  • Seattle Sounders FC finished second in Group D last year.
  • Three-time reigning domestic cup champion in U.S.
  • Prominent players: Eddie Johnson, Freddy Montero, Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales, Christian Tiffert.
  • Marathón failed to qualify for last year’s competition.
  • Was second-best team in Honduras last year, behind Olimpia.
  • Olimpia’s rivals and another stronghold of Honduran national team talent.
  • Attack hasn’t recovered since loss of Uruguayan Claudio Cardozo after the 2011 Apertura
  • Caledonia AIA finished third in last year’s domestic competition.
  • Qualified by beating Western Connection in the Caribbean Championship.
  • Roster contains players from five different Caribbean countries.
  • No Carribean team made last year’s group stage.

Group 5

  • LA Galaxy won their group on a three-way tiebreaker last year before being eliminated by Toronto FC.
  • Eliminated the previous season by Puerto Rico in prelims.
  • Roller coaster year in MLS.
  • Older team.
  • Coach may not care about this competition.
  • Isidro Metapan qualified for last year’s knockout round, finishing ahead of Colorado in group stage.
  • Four points from two games to start domestic competition.
  • Won both qualification stages, the Apertura tournament, and lost to Águila in the final of the Clausura tournament.
  • Got Nicolas Munoz from Aguila.
  • Other key players: Paulo Suarez, Christian Bautista, Alfredo Pacheco.
  • Puerto Rico Islanders beat LA Galaxy two years go.
  • Lost to Isidro Metapan in last year’s play in stage.
  • Have traditionally had success in this competition, but
  • No longer have head coach Colin Clarke.

Group 6

  • Tigres may be the best defensive team in the region.
  • Rely on central defenders Juninho at the back.
  • Lucas Lobos is the key going forward.
  • Won last year’s Apertura
  • Other keys: Elias Hernandez, Damian Alvarez, Carlos Salciedo, Jorge Torres Nilo, Hugo Ayala.
  • Alajuelense a traditional Costa Rican power.
  • Lost out on last year’s group stages on tiebreaker after going 4-0-2.
  • Defeated Herediano in last week’s Supercopa.
  • Won the Invierno over Herediano on penalty kicks.
  • Have a number of young players just breaking into the Costa Rica set up.
  • Real Estelí are Nicaragua’s lone representative.
  • Nicaragua’s never placed a team in the knockout stage.
  • Opened the domestic season with four goals in a win.
  • Won both qualification stages last season by a combined 19 points.
  • Outscored opponents 10-4 in finals.

Group 7

  • Chorrillo won the last Panamanian Apertura before fading in the Clausura.
  • They’ve failed to score in two games to open 2012-13.
  • Veteran Alberto Blanco’s the biggest name (35yo mid).
  • Monterrey  is the most talented team in the region
  • Two-time defending champion.
  • Lost to Santos in the Clausura final after beating them in the CCL final.
  • Will go to WCC.
  • Humberto Suazo, Aldo de Negris, Angel Reyna, Cesar Delgado in attack.
  • Balance throughout their team.
  • 0-1-1 to start the Apertura, 0-1 goals
  • Municipal was knocked out in play-in round last year.
  • 2-1-1 (6/2) to start year in Guatemala.
  • Fourth was their best qualification stage finish last season.
  • Won the Apertura, lost Clausura in a shootout to Xelaju.
  • Balanced attack were 11 players scored at least four goals last year.
  • Key players: Mario Rodriguez, Yony Flores, Darwin Oliva, Oscar Isuala, Juan José Castillo, Jamie Penedo

Group 8

  • Xelaju won Guatemala’s Clausura on penalty kicks.
  • Brazilian forward Israel Silva (31 goals last year) is their attacking focal point.
  • Have no meaningful tournament experience.
  • Chivas finished first in the Apertura qualification stage before falling flat.
  • Young team with isolated stars (Marco Fabian) who have the talent to be dangerous in this tournament.
  • Other stars: Luis Michel, Hector Reynoso, Rafael Marquez Lugo, Erick Torres
  • Lost their first game of the Apertura.
  • W Connection won T&T’s club season and lost on penalty kicks in the Caribbean Championship.
  • Have limited, unsuccessful experience in this competition.
  • Is not Joe Public.
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