10/27/2008 – Now would be a good time for a rally.
Tauro FC and Puerto Rico will face off in Panama City for the last Champions League quarterfinal spot in Group D Wednesday, tied on points and both needing a victory to avoid any mathematical gymnastics.
With both sides slumping in recent weeks, the winner of the clash between the Bulls of Pedegral and the visiting Orange Troop also has a chance for some degree of redemption.
The Islanders, winless in their last three group stage outings, have a chance to erase the memory of last Wednesday’s lifeless performance against the Municipal in San Juan.
«Against Municipal we had many players who did not work,» said coach Colin Clarke. «Now we will lick our wounds, regroup and hope to get back in form for our trip to Panama.»
The Islanders opened group stage play with consecutive wins against Santos and Tauro, but coupled with their loss in the United Soccer Leagues championship game to Vancouver two weekends ago, appear to have stalled — dropping their last four matches.
Tauro FC also appear on the brink of collapse after being dispatched 3-0 by Santos in last Wednesday’s game and giving up an injury time equalizer the previous week during a nightmare finish against Municipal in Guatemala.
There may also be a noticeable gap in the middle of the park for Tauro during Tuesday’s opening clash at Rod Carew Stadium as the home side will be without midfielders Ricardo Amor, Jhoan Melo, Jean Alberto McLean and Christian Vega due to suspension.
A draw between the Islanders and Tauro would complicate matters, requiring a list of tiebreakers to decide the team that will advance to the quarterfinals in February and March.
If Municipal defeats Santos Laguna in Wednesday’s final group stage match in Guatemala City, then away goals scored in games between Municipal, Tauro and Puerto Rico would determine the quarterfinalist.
But if Santos wins, then a draw between Tauro and the Islanders favors Puerto Rico.
Santos defeated Municipal 3-2 in their opening clash on 17 September at Corona Stadium in Torreon, Coahuila, but needed a 90th-minute goal by striker Matias Vuoso for the win.
But Santos will be without Vuoso along with defender Alberto Soto and midfielder Johnnie Garcia in their clash with Municipal. The three have been suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards. Santos will however have team scoring leader Christian Benitez, who has seven goals in the Mexican Apertura and another four in the Champions League.
The Warriors are coming off a 2:1 loss to Atlas at Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara during domestic league play on Saturday, while Municipal won 2:0 against Petapa in the Guatemalan league on Sunday.