Teams fighting to stay alive in CCL
Two Mexican sides find themselves in an unprecedented position heading into the final matchday of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage.
CD Guadalajara and Tigres UANL must win their final group outings in order to clinch one of the five available berths in the quarterfinals. Any other result will see them crash out of the competition and enter the record books as the first Mexican sides to exit after round-robin play in the Champions League era.
The stakes don't end there. Several MLS teams – including Houston and Real Salt Lake – also have work to do this week to join Los Angeles Galaxy, Monterrey and Seattle Sounders in the knockout rounds. Even the qualified sides must perform to bolster their records ahead of a quarterfinal stage seeded according to the number of points accumulated during group play.
With so much on the line this week, FOX Soccer broke down the qualification scenarios in each group ahead of the eight matches left to play:
Only a miracle will prevent Santos Laguna from claiming top spot in the group after Wednesday's visit by Toronto FC (8:00p.m., FOX Soccer). The Canadians must win at Estadio Corona and overturn their substantial deficit on goal difference in order to seal a berth in the quarterfinals. It won't happen.
Everything will come down to the critical meeting between Herediano and Real Salt Lake on Tuesday night (10:00p.m., FOX Soccer). RSL will advance with a 1-0 victory or a win by a margin of two or more goals at Rio Tinto Stadium. Any other result will send the Costa Ricans through after they claimed a 1-0 victory in the first meeting on July 31.
Houston Dynamo sits in the best spot to advance ahead of a decisive affair against Olimpia on Tuesday night (8:00p.m., FOX Soccer). Dominic Kinnear's side will advance with a draw or a win. The Honduran giants must claim the first competitive victory by a visiting team at BBVA Compass Stadium to secure the lone berth out of this group.
Seattle Sounders have already clinched first place in the group after compiling an unblemished record through three matches. Sigi Schmid's group will finish the group stage with a home date against Honduran side Marathón on Wednesday night (10:00p.m., FOX Soccer).
Los Angeles Galaxy secured a place in the quarterfinals after Puerto Rico Islanders defeated Isidro Metapán on Sept. 27. Bruce Arena's side will complete its group play duties with a trip to face Metapán in El Salvador on Thursday night (10:00p.m., FOX Soccer).
The final match in group play will determine whether Alajuelense or Tigres UANL will qualify for the knockout round. The Costa Ricans will advance with a draw or a win at Estadio Universitario given their current two-point advantage in the table, but Tigres can avoid an unexpected exit with a victory on the final day.
Monterrey started its march to a third straight title with three straight wins. The holders have guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinals and will round out the group stage with a visit to Panamanian side Chorrillo on Tuesday night.
In order to avoid an embarrassing and premature departure from the tournament, Chivas must claim all three points against Guatemalan minnows Xelajú on Thursday night. Xelajú's 1-0 win in the reverse fixture on Aug. 21 means Chivas must win by a 1-0 scoreline or by two or more goals in order to overtake the Guatemalans for first place.