CONCACAF: Monterrey hope to defend Champions title in 2011-12
North and Central American champions Monterrey CF will begin their defence of the CONCACAF Champions League this week and it is difficult to look beyond them or any of their compatriots from Mexico claiming the crown yet again. Since the tournament was re-branded from the old CONCACAF Champions Cup three years ago Mexican clubs have claimed the title every year and it is difficult to see who can stop that trend from continuing this time around
Monterrey CF have had a successful couple of years having been Mexican champions in the last two Apertura championships and they complimented domestic success with the big continental prize earlier this year by defeating American side Real Salt Lake 3-2 on aggregate in the 2010-11 final. The defending champions should easily progress from Group D in this year’s competition as they face Guatemalan champions CSD Comunicaciones, American Open Cup champions Seattle Sounders and Costa Rican outsiders CS Herediano. The latter two teams sealed their places in the group stage by defeating San Francisco (Panama) and Alpha United (Guyana) respectively in the qualifying round.
The other Mexican teams in the competition should also encounter few problems in the group phase of the competition. Two of them, Santos Laguna and Monarcas Morelia, had to feature in the qualifying rounds before they were assured of CONCACAF Champions League football this year but aggregate wins over Olimpia (Honduras) and Tempête FC (Haiti) saw them through and with neither of these clubs ever having won this tournament they are both keen to break their duck this year. Monarcas’ two clashes against Los Angeles Galaxy in Group A will be amongst the most anticipated clashes in the group stage especially as the American side are desperate to end the Mexican stranglehold on the competition and seem the most likely non-Mexican team to have a major chance of emerging victorious this season. UNAM Pumas have been continental champions on three occasions but have endured 22 years of hurt since their last win in 1989. They will face MLS side FC Dallas, Canadian champions Toronto FC and Panamanian Tauro FC in Group C and should at least make it to second place in the group.
GROUP A: Alajuelense (Costa Rica), Los Angeles Galaxy (USA), Monarcas Morelia (Mexico), Motagua (Honduras)
GROUP B: Colorado Rapids (USA), Isidro Metapán (El Salvador), Real España (Honduras), Santos Laguna (Mexico)
GROUP C: FC Dallas (USA), Tauro FC (Panama), Toronto FC (Canada), UNAM Pumas (Mexico)
GROUP D: CSD Comunicaciones (Guatemala), Herediano (Costa Rica), Monterrey (Mexico), Seattle Sounders (USA)