CCL Group Stage: Week 4
D.C. United 2-0 Arabe Unido
Conor Doyle scored in the first minute of play and United didn’t look back at home, easily dispatching Arabe Unido and winning Group H. The first goal was a result of some atrocious back post defending on a breakaway, and that theme continued for Arabe in the 22nd minute as Jared Jeffery headed home a corner at the back post to put. The Panamanian side had to scramble, needing a victory to stay alive in the group, and they did hit the crossbar twice. Still, the early goals proved too much to overcome. With nine points, D.C. United is the first team to clinch a place in the knockout round. The final two games in Group H will be a formality.
Santa Tecla 0-0 Real Salt Lake
RSL earned a valuable road point in El Salvador Tuesday night as Jeff Attinella made a couple huge saves to keep a clean sheet. The hosts wasted a massive opportunity in group play and will be kicking themselves. Santa Tecla had chances to take the lead, but playing in a 5-3-2 formation, perhaps they were too conservative at home. The visitors from Utah subbed in Kyle Beckerman, Joao Plata, and Javi Morales in the second half, but still couldn’t find a goal to steal all three points. John Stertzer was sent off for a second yellow late in the game and will miss the next group match. RSL are now tied with Municipal for the group lead, but hold an advantage as they will host the final two Group G games at Rio Tinto Stadium. All three teams are still alive in group play.
W Connection 2-1 Saprissa
W Connection has achieved one of the biggest upsets of the tournament so far, defeating one of the group favorites, Saprissa. Kurt Frederick scored off a corner in the 35th minute to put the hosts ahead. However, Saprissa’s standout attacker Daniel Colindres tied the game just three minutes later with a left footed strike across the face of goal. At that point, most would have predicted a Saprissa victory. However, with the game tied late, the Connection were able to earn a free kick outside the box, and Alvin Jones got the ball up and down over the purple wall. The shot skipped into the net, and the Costa Rican powerhouse was stunned on the road. Saprissa now have lost their advantage in the group. W Connection is still eliminated, but can play spoiler but beating Santos Laguna in their last game in Group A.
Walter Ferreti 1-3 America
It was a massive week for soccer in the National Stadium in Managua, Nicaragua. First, a standing room only crowd saw the national team nearly upset Jamaica but lose 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier (and the local boys deserved a victory, playing Jamaica off the field for nearly 80 minutes). And as a second helping of international play, Walter Ferreti got to host defending CCL champions America just a few days later on the same field. However, despite the large crowd and confident first 10 minutes from Ferreti, a Darwin Quintero brace was enough to dispatch the hosts and knock them out of the tournament. America seemed to take their opponent seriously after barely earning a win against them in the Azteca in the first week of CCL play. All four goals were scored in the first half. America will win the group, unless Motagua can manage to beat Ferreti and then beat the Mexican side in Honduras. Still, Group E is not quite over, with that last game looking to be a potentially difficult one for America.
Vancouver 1-0 Olimpia
Kianz Froese scored the only goal of the game, despite numerous chances for both teams. The Whitecaps are in the drivers’ seat in Group F with two games to play. Olimpia and Seattle each have just one game left, but are still alive. Vancouver only needs to draw their final two games to win the group, but if they draw against Seattle, they will need a result in Honduras in October. This is still anyone’s group, but the Canadians control their own destiny.
Central FC 1-0 Comunicaciones
Central FC did the LA Galaxy a huge favor Thursday evening, all but ensuring that the Americans advance. Still, LA has to play two road games to close out group play, and will need not to lose them both. This will be the first real test of the Galaxy in what was one of the weakest groups in this year’s tournament. An Ataulla Guerra goal an hour into the game was enough to defeat Comunicaciones, who created enough chances to win but couldn’t find their finishing touch in this one. If LA wins in Trinidad this week, they will win Group D.
Isidro Metapan 2-0 Herediano
Metapan have salvaged their CCL with a massive result at home against Herediano. The hosts had the majority of the chances all night, and finally broke though in the 64th minute through a David Rugamas goal. Otoniel Salinas added an exclamation point with a left footed blast into the upper 90 in the 90th minute. The Salvadoran side will live to play another day but now host Tigres on Thursday. If Tigres can win, they will advance. If Metapan can get a result, they will open the door for Herediano to upset the Mexicans in their last game of the Group B. If Metapan win the game, they could potentially still win the group. This is a group to watch.
Queretaro 8-0 Verdes
Los Gallos Blancos knew they had to make the most of their last group stage game, and they did just that, both earning the three points and running up the score, which could come in handy if San Francisco wins their last two games. The Liga MX outfit is finished in group play, but has a healthy lead over the Panamanians. Even if San Francisco win their last two games against Verdes, they will also have to score lots of goals to advance.
Group stage play continues this week, with highlights including Seattle – Vancouver on Wednesday, and Metapan – Tigres on Thursday night. After this week, there should be some clear group winners, and we will have a picture of what the knockout stage will start to look like.