29/10/2008 19:21

The CONCACAF Champions League continues on Wednesday with a full slate of matches.

With the CCL group stage coming to a close the Puerto Rico Islanders will visit Panama and Tauro F.C. with a chance to become ULS’s second quarterfinalist and Cruz Azul will have a chance to secure another spot in the knockout round for Mexico.

Deportivo Saprissa (CRC) v Cruz Azul (MEX) (Group A)
When: 8:00 pm ET, Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Where: Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, San Jose, Costa Rica

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Cruz Azul will travel to San Jose Costa Rica Wednesday with a chance to become Group A’s first quarterfinalist. Ten points from five games has the Mexican side in first place in the group but with Saprissa and Marathon having only played four games each Cruz will need a win to solidify their spot in the CCL’s knockout stages.

La Noria destroyed Saprissa in the team’s first meeting, collecting a 4-0 win in Mexico City, but the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa will not offer a comfortable atmosphere for the Mexicans in the return leg.

Saprissa will also be in search of a victory that would send them into their final CCL match tied for the group lead. With last week’s meeting against Marathon having been rescheduled the Costa Rican giants have a game in hand on Cruz Azul but will want to get maximum points at home before heading to San Pedro Sula Honduras on the fifth of November to close out group play.

Saprissa is still unbeaten at home in the CCL but did surrender two goals in Costa Rica in a draw with D.C. United, the bottom team in Group A. Los Morados will be hoping for a better performance from their defense, which has surrendered seven goals in four CCL matches, when the group’s highest scoring team visits Wednesday.

Players to Watch:
Cruz Azul: Nicolas Vigneri. The 25-year-old Uruguayan forward scored the eventual game winner against D.C. last week to open his CCL account.
Deportivo Saprissa: Cesar Elizondo. The midfielder came on in the 56th minute of Saprissa’s last home match, the 2-2 draw with D.C. United, with his team trialing by a goal. Elizondo scored twice in his limited time and should have a good case for starting on Wednesday.

UNAM Pumas (MEX) v San Francisco F.C. (PAN) (Group B)
When: 10:00 pm ET, Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Where: Estadio Olimpico Universitario, Mexico City, Mexico

Pumas clinched a spot in the quarterfinals with their 3-1 win over Houston last week but a win over San Francisco would win Group B for the Mexicans.

The young Pumas team played very well on the rain soaked pitch of Robertson Stadium last Wednesday night and walked away with one of only two victories by road teams in Group B play. The game may have very little meaning for either team and Pumas will likely put out a similar starting eleven to the one that controlled play for much of the night against the Dynamo.

With Montreal’s loss to Atlante on Tuesday Pumas will have an opportunity to be the only team to complete group play unbeaten.

San Francisco is still winless in the group. The Panamanians will be playing their last CCL game Wednesday night but one of their two draws came against Pumas in the team’s first meeting.

Temistocles Perez leads San Francisco in scoring with two goals in the CCL but the team has only managed to tally four goals in five games.

Despite opening group play with back to back draws against Pumas and the Dynamo the Monks lost three straight games and were eliminated from the competition. The Panamanian side has yet to earn even a single point on the road and facing the group’s top team in Mexico City does not bode well for that trend to right itself this week.

Players to Watch:
UNAM Pumas: Marco Palacios. Sometimes referred to as “Side Show Bob” by Pumas fans in the US, the 27-year-old defender was anything but a joke in the Pumas win over Houston. Aside from dominating his end of the pitch, with help from his twin brother, Pumas goalkeeper Alejandro, Palacios scored the goal of the competition when he redirected a corner into the net with his right foot.
San Francisco F.C.: Eduardo Jimenez. The Panamanian midfielder put his name on the score sheet against Firpo last week, becoming only the third San Francisco player to find the net in the CCL.

Tauro F.C. (PAN) v Puerto Rico Islanders (PRI)
When: 8:00 pm ET, Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Where: Estadio Rod Carew, Panama City, Panama
TV: Fox Soccer Channel, 11:00 pm ET (delayed broadcast)

The Puerto Rico Islanders will travel to Panama Wednesday to take on Tauro F.C. in a match to decide which team will advance to the quarterfinals.

After starting the CCL by winning their first two games the Islanders could only manage one point out of their next three and head into the final game of group play tied on points with Tauro. The Islanders are still looking for their first road win of the group stage and it could come at no better time than Wednesday night.

Colin Clarke’s charges have found the going tough of late. In their first three matches the Islanders scored seven goals but in the last two matches they have been held scoreless. The seven Islander goals came from seven different scorers so the lack of goals falls cannot be blamed on any one player.

Tauro is in a very similar position as the Islanders. In their last outing the Panamanians took a crushing 3-0 defeat from Santos Laguna of Mexico and will need a much stronger performance to find their way into the knockout stage.

An exact tie on points with the Islanders means that Tauro can only advance with a win due to the Puerto Ricans holding the advantage in head to head play by virtue of a 2-1 win on the first day of group play.

Players to Watch:
Puerto Rico Islanders: Kendal Jagdeosingh. At only 19 years of age the Trinidadian striker is already an accomplished striker who may be the Puerto Rican’s best chance at a goal Wednesday.
Tauro F.C.: Edwin Aguilar. The 23-year-old forward scored Tauro’s only goal in their first meeting with the Islanders.

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