CONCACAF.COM

Photo by Joaquin Hernandez
8/4/2009 – BAYAMON, Puerto Rico – The Puerto Rico Islanders returned to the Group Stage of the CONCACAF Champions League, holding Toronto FC to a 0-0 draw Tuesday and advancing on aggregate.

The Islanders, who reached the semifinals of the inaugural Champions League before being subdued by Cruz Azul, won the first leg of the Preliminary Round series 1-0 a week ago in Toronto.

The Islanders will join Group C where it will face either Cruz Azul again or Herediano of Costa Rica, as well as another team from Major League Soccer, the MLS Cup winners Columbus Crew, and Saprissa of Costa Rica. Cruz Azul won the first leg of its Preliminary Round series against Herediano 6-2.

While the first half was relatively even, Toronto had most of the possession in the final 45 minutes but rarely looked threatening. Chris Cummins’ insertion of Chad Barret for Sam Cronin in the 57th and Danny Dichio for Amado Guevarain the 73rd produced only a one close chance.

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Dichio was able to get a ball at his feet in the middle of the area in the 77th, turned and launched a right-footed shot from just outside the six-yard box that banged off the right post.

Toronto’s best chance prior came in the 53rd when Islanders goalkeeper Bill Gaudette had to leap to tip Guevara’s shot from just outside the area just over the bar.

Puerto Rico had the best chance early when Nicholas Addlery hit the right post of Toronto with a right-footed shot from just outside the arc in the 13th minute. It finished with only 10 men after second-half substitute Kendall Jagdeosingh was ejected in the 88th minute.

The Islanders, who play in the United Soccer Leagues First Division, the second tier of North American soccer, was without manager Colin Clarke for a second match due to his ejection from the Caribbean Club Champions Cup final in May.

The result was Puerto Rico’s fifth 0-0 draw in their last eight matches. It will open the Group Stage on the Columbus Crew on August 18 in Crew Stadium.

The failure of Toronto to advance continues a string of futility of MLS teams to get out of the Preliminary Round. Both the New England Revolution and Chivas USA were eliminated last year. D.C. United was held to a 1-1 draw by Firpo at home in the first leg of its series, and the New York Red Bulls were held to a 2-2 draw in Trinidad by W Connection last week.

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