CONCACAF Champions League: Quarter-finals preview

This week, the first legs of the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals will take place. All four Mexican sides have made it through their Round of 16 tie, with three MLS clubs also making it into the last eight of the competition.

The surprise package is Tauro, the Panamanian side, who knocked out FC Dallas to make it through to the quarter finals.

 

Club America v Tauro

The most decorated club in the competition will take on the underdogs over two legs. Club America have won the CCL seven times, more than any other team. Tauro, on the other hand, had never ade it past the group stage under the old format of the tournament. Since the rebrand of the CCL back in 2008, the two sides have never met each other in this competition.

Club America have won the tournament seven times, most recently in 2016, when they retained the trophy. They qualified for this year’s version of the Champions League by finish runners-up in the 2016 Apertura. To get through to the last eight, they had to get past three times Champions, Saprissa. It sounded difficult, but Club America went to Costa Rica and won 5-1, with tow goals each from Cecilio Dominguez and Mateus Aribe. A 1-1 draw followed in the second leg, as they comfortably advanced with a 6-2 aggregate scoreline.

Tauro have never made it past the group stage of the tournament before, so this is now, immediately, their most successful run in the CCL. They reached the tournament as Champions of the 2017 Clausura in Panama, and faced FC Dallas, of the USA, in the Round of 16. They won 1-0 at home, thanks to Edwin Aguilar’s strike. He scored again in the away leg, which they lost 3-2. However, because of the away goals they scored, Tauro went through to the quarter finals on the 3-3 aggregate score.

 

Seattle Sounders v Guadalajara

Seattle had to come from behind to reach the quarter finals, and set up a meeting with Guadalajara in this year’s tournament. The two teams have never met in intercontinental competition, but were both part of the 2012-13 campaign, when Seattle went all the way to the semi finals.

The Sounders qualified for this year’s CONCACAF Champions League, thanks to winning the MLS Cup in 2016. It is their fifth appearance in the competition since the revamp, with that semi final appearance being their best run in the tournament. They needed a big second leg victory to get through to the last eight, though. Santa Tecla beat the Sounders 2-1 in El Salvador, before the American side won out 4-0 on home soil, to go through on aggregate, with a scoreline of 5-2.

Guadalajara, on the other hand, had a much easier passage through to the quarter finals. They did not concede a goal in their two matches against Cibao, who themselves were debutants in the tournament. Jose Juan Macias scored in both games, as the Mexican side secured a 7-0 aggregate victory, with five of those scored in the second leg. This is just their second appearance in the CCL, having failed to make it out of the group stage back in 2012-13.

 

Tijuana v NY Red Bulls

Tijuana conceded a single goal in 180 minutes in their Round of 16 tie, as they defeated Motagua to take their place in the last eight. The Red Bulls have equalled their best ever return in the CCL, having made the quarter finals of the tournament last year as well. The two sides have never met in intercontinental competition, and will meet for the first time this week.

The Mexican side qualified for this year’s tournament as the best non-finalists in Liga MX. Their record in the 2017 Clausura was enough to give them the fourth qualifying spot for Mexico. It is their second appearance in the tournament, having reached the semi finals in 2013/14. They beat Motagua 2-1 over two legs in the Round of 16, with Ignacio Rivero and Jose Alberto Garcia scoring the goals.

This is the Red Bulls’ fourth appearance in the tournament, with their best of a last eight appearance last season. To get through to the quarter finals this time round, they had to get past Olimpia over two legs. They won 3-1, thanks to Daniel Royer, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sean Davis’ strikes.

 

Toronto FC v Tigres UANL

This is the tie of the round, with the reigning MLS Cup Champions facing the runners-up from the last two seasons, Tigres UANL. Once again, there has never been a meeting between the two sides in intercontinental competition, but expect fireworks this, and next, week.

Toronto qualified for the 2018 CCL by winning both the 2016 and 2017 Canadian Championships, dismissing the idea of a playoff between the two winners. This is their fifth time in the competition, with a semi final appearance back in 2011/12. To get through to the quarter finals, this year, they beat Colorado over two legs, thanks to goals from Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio in the first leg.

The Mexican side have finished as runners-up in both 2015/16 and 2016/17, and will be looking to go one step further this campaign. Twice runners-up in their three previous appearances in the tournament, and this time round, they beat Herediano to advance to the last eight. They won 5-3 on aggregate, with Enner Valencia scoring twice in the second leg to seal their qualification to the quarter finals.

 

Game Times:

  • Club America v Tauro (Wednesday 1am, UK time)
  • Tijuana v NY Red Bulls (Wednesday 3am, UK time)
  • Toronto FC v Tigres UANL (Thursday 1am, UK time)
  • Seattle v Guadalajara (Thursday 3am, UK time)

 

Written by Matt Coles (@MattJColes)

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