August 17, 2010

CONCACAF Champions League: Group B preview and predictions



With Group B play of the CONCACAF Champions League on the horizon, it looks like it'll be a brisk competition for the Group title for Santos or Columbus...unless of course Municipal or Joe Public can pull off a few upsets. 

Columbus Crew



Current Record: (11-5-4), 3rd place in MLS.

How they got here: 2009 MLS Supporter's Shield.

Key Player: Guillermo Barros Schelotto

The Crew have a lot of hope to go far in this upcoming Champions League campaign. Exiting in the quarterfinals subsequent to a 5-4 aggregate loss against Toluca, Columbus was the last hope for any MLS club to seek Champions League glory.

A gritty team that has a solid passing game, the Crew are a potent force to win the group and possibly make a run deep into the knockout stages. But to do so they're going to need to perform well on the road and have solid performances from Barros Schelotto, Lenhart, Marshall and Hejduk.

Prediction: 2nd. I had a bad feeling about Santos at first given their 3-2 home loss to D.C. United a few months back, but they'll have an advantage over Columbus. The Crew will be worn out from U.S. Open Cup, late season play-off push and the MLS Cup Playoffs around the corner. It'll get messy with their schedule. Still, they should be able to comfortably margin in second.

CSD Municipal



Current Record: Pre-season

How they got here: 2010 Guatemalan Clausura champions

Key Player: Juan Carlos Plata

A potential dark horse in the tournament, Municipal had an excellent campaign in this spring's Clausura championship. The Rojos are currently the only Guatemalan club to ever win a continental honor back in 1974. While that's a stretch for Municipal to achieve that type of a success, qualifying for the knockout round from this group would be an honor of its own.

Prediction: 3rd. Unfortunately, I see the Rojos missing out on quarterfinal birth. However, they do have the potential to earn a draw in Trinidad and at home against the Crew, but other than that, it'll be some painful traveling for Municipal. 

Santos Laguna



Current Record: (4-0-0), 1st place in the Mexican Apertura 

How they got here: 2010 Torneo Bicentenario finalists

Key Player: Daniel LudueƱa

A potential dark horse in the tournament, Municipal had an excellent campaign in this spring's Clausura championship. The Rojos are currently the only Guatemalan club to ever win a continental honor back in 1974. While that's a stretch for Municipal to achieve that type of a success, qualifying for the knockout round from this group would be an honor of its own.

Prediction: 1st. It's going to be a tight battle between Santos and Columbus, but the Guerroros should prevail. The club has much fresher legs than Columbus, and their schedule is not as messy as the Crew's are. Needless to say it will not be easy, but Santos should prevail for the group title.


Joe Public



Current Record: (5-4-1), 2nd place in the TT Pro League

How they got here: Caribbean Championship finalists

Key Player: Kerry Baptiste

Joe Public had horrid Champions League last year finishing in dead last in their group, losing all their games, where it became a three-way competition between Toluca, Marathon and D.C. United in terms of how bad you defeated Joe Public. 

Joe Public should not be taken as a whipping boy of the group, especially with their shock away win over Costa Rica's Brujas in the preliminary stage, signaling to the fellow group members that they are in fact a force to be reckoned with.

Prediction: 4th. It'll really come down to playing for pride for Joe Public. They may be able to steal a point at home, but apart from that, it'll likely be a repeat of last year for the Eastern Lions.

A version of this blog post is featured on Bleacher Report.

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Tyler Walter

Author & Editor

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