Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

CONCACAF: Mexicans showing the way in Champions League

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on March 19, 2010
Pachuca

Pachuca are one of four Mexican teams in the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals

As convincing as it was predictable, four Mexican teams occupy the semi-final places in the 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League after defeating opponents from four different nations in the quarter-finals. These results continue the trend set in recent years where Mexican clubs have dominated the tournament and it ensures that for the fifth year in succession the trophy will go to the footballing superpower in North and Central America.

The first quarter-final was completed on Tuesday night when defending champions Pachuca overcame the challenge of Guatemalan side Comunicaciones with a 2-1 second leg victory thanks to goals from Paul Nicolás Aguilar and Luis Montes with Rolando Fonseca replying for Comunicaciones via the penalty spot. The win meant that Pachuca won 3-2 on aggregate after the first leg, played in Guatemala one week earlier, had finished 1-1. Pachuca’s semi-final opponents will be Deportivo Toluca who overcame a tough test against Major League Soccer team Columbus Crew. After the first leg had finished 2-2 this was a topsy-turvy affair with Guillermo Barros Schelotto giving The Crew the lead on the stroke of half-time with a penalty kick. Toluca equalised just two minutes into the second half thanks to another penalty, this time scored by Héctor Mancilla and then António Naélson, known simly as Sinha, scored the first of two in the 57th minute to give Toluca the lead. Schelotto restored parity for Columbus Crew on 70 minutes but, not for the first time, they couldn’t hold on as Toluca went up the other end and scored the winner thanks to Sinha’s second goal on 72 minutes.

The other all-Mexican semi-final tie will be between Cruz Azul and UNAM Pumas who both had more comfortable wins against their quarter-final opponents. Cruz Azul, who have won this tournament a joint record five times, already had a cushion of a 1-0 lead from the first leg against Panamanian side CD Arabe Unido before putting the game to the sword with an easy 3-0 return leg victory at home thanks to goals from Javier Orozco (2) and César Villaluz to complete a convincing 4-0 aggregate win. Honduran champions Club Deportivo Marathón did win their first leg against UNAM Pumas 2-0 thanks to two penalties being converted by Walter Martínez and Carlos Mejía. However the Mexicans proved in last night’s second leg that the competition is a Marathón rather than a sprint (sorry, I couldn’t resist that one!) by hammering the Hondurans 6-1, including a brace apiece for Ismael Íñiguez and Francisco Palencia, therefore completing a 6-3 victory over the two legs.

SEMI-FINALS (dates to be decided)

UNAM Pumas v Cruz Azul

Deportivo Toluca v Pachuca

* – Teams on the left are at home in the first leg

CONCACAF Champions League: Quarter-Final Preview

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on March 9, 2010
Concacaf Champions Cup

Atlante CF captain Federico Vilar lifts the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League trophy. Who will win the 2009-10 edition?

North and Central America’s elite club competition continues after a four month break with Mexican clubs threatening to continue their dominance of the tournament. Mexican clubs account for the last four winners of the competition and with half of the remaining eight teams in the quarter-final stage coming from the regional footballing superpower the dominance is expected to continue into this year. However there are four other teams ready to challenge this recent monopoly of the tournament with one team each from the USA, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama ready to give the Mexicans a run for their money. Here is Stoppage Time’s guide to the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals:

CSD COMUNICACIONES (Guatemala) v C.F. PACHUCA (Mexico)

Pachuca will wish to continue their recent record in this tournament having been triumphant in 2002, 2007 and 2008. They are expected to get through against 1978 champions Comunicaciones who are currently second in their domestic league, but who haven’t got the strength in depth of their more illustrious opponents. In saying that Comunicaciones can take heart in the fact that Pachuca have lost four of their nine matches in the current Mexican Clausura championship campaign and the Guatemalans did rest some players this weekend ahead of tonight’s clash. In the group stage Pachuca finished top of Group A by a comfortable five point margin from Panamanian side CD Arabe Unido whilst Comunicaciones finished second in Group D four points behind UNAM Pumas from Mexico.

COLUMBUS CREW (United States) v DEPORTIVO TOLUCA (Mexico)

Columbus Crew are playing in this competition for the third time in their history and will want to get past their previous best finish of a quarter-final place in the 2003 Champions Cup (as it was then called) against Mexican side Morelia. With the new MLS season not due to start for at least another few weeks the Americans will relish all the match practice they can get. Deportivo Toluca, on the other hand, are well into the Mexican Clausura season but they, like Pachuca, haven’t set the world alight with their recent form. In the group stage the Mexicans finished top of a very tight Group B finishing two and three points ahead of Hondurans C.D. Marathón and MLS side D.C. United respectively. Columbus Crew finished a distant second in Group C eight points behind Cruz Azul.

C.D. MARATHÓN (Honduras) v PUMAS de la  UNAM (Mexico)

UNAM were three times champions of the old CONCACAF Champions Cup in 1980, 1982 and 1989 but were defeated finalists as recently as 2005. The Pumas are going well in their domestic Clausura championship group and hope that they can finally experience some continental glory for the first time in a generation. They are expected to get past their opponents who are lying eighth in the Honduran league but who have been resting players ready for the continuation of this tournament. Having won the Torneo Apertura (Opening championship) before Christmas Marathón could afford to rest on their domestic laurels. They just about qualified from Group B having beaten American capital side D.C. United by a single point in the group phase while Pumas had a slightly easier progression with a four point advantage in first place over fellow quarter-finalists Comunicaciones.

ARABE UNIDO (Panama) v CRUZ AZUL (Mexico)

Joint record champions Cruz Azul have won this tournament in its former guise of the Champions Cup five times (1969, 1970, 1971, 1996, 1997) but were losing finalists last season against Mexican rivals Atlante C.F. (see picture). Cruz Azul also qualified for the Copa Libertadores final in 2001 but were unlucky to lose to Argentinian giants Boca Juniors on penalties after the two-legged final had finished 1-1. The Mexicans were the only team in all four groups to qualify for the quarter-finals with a 100% record and are firm favourites to get through to the final four against an Arabe Unido side who currently lie sixth in a very tight domestic league only two points behind championship leaders Chepo F.C. Arabe Unido finished three points ahead of US side Houston Dynamo in second place from Group A to get to this stage.