Monday, October 21, 2013

CCL Group Stage Closes Out this Week

Tomorrow the final group play matches of the CONCACAF Champions' League kick off. Three days of games, including Sporting KC's game against Olimpia on Wednesday will decide what teams advance to the knock out round. I figured before the games kick off tomorrow we'd take a look at the games and their affect on advancement.

Only the top finisher out of each group advances to the knockout round. To figure out the opponents in the knock out rounds, the teams are ranked by how they finished in their group. For example, if the group stage was done now, Sporting would finish in 5th in the group and earn a match up with LA next year. Sporting though can still finish anywhere from the 1st seed to the 8th depending on their result and how other results go. KC is likely to be in the middle to lower half though.

Of the eight games tomorrow, only one of them is meaningless, Wednesday's game where Victoria of Honduras hosts Luis Angel Firpo of El Salvador. Mexican club Tijuana has already played their four group games and clinched the group.  The other seven matches, at the least will have an effect on seeding.

Let's start on Tuesday, October 22. The early game that day is in group four, where Club America hosts Alajuelense. Currently the Costa Rica's lead the group ahead of America thanks to their 1-0 win over them at home. But a win by America will see them go through ahead of the Costa Ricans. A draw and Alajuelense goes through. I'd expect America to pick up the result in this one.

The second game sees another match up between a Costa Rican and Mexican side. This time it's Costa Rican club, Herediano hosting Cruz Azul. Herediano needs to win by 3 goals to go through over the Mexican side. A tough ask against a team that's only conceded a single goal so far.

Wednesday, October 23 starts off with Sporting KC taking on Olimpia. Any sort of result for Sporting will see them through their group and into the knockout round. Olimpia has to get the win on the road to pass Sporting in the standings.

The other early kick off on Wednesday has Mexican side Toluca hosting the Guatemalans, Comunicaciones. Toluca is certainly in the drivers seat though. They've already secured maximum points from their first three games and will be favorites to pick up another three and end up as one of the top seeds in the knock out round.

Another MLS team kicks off later in the evening on Wednesday. San Jose hosts Guatemalan side, Heredia. The Earthquakes need to win the game to advance. Any other result and the Guatemalans go through.

The final game on Wednesday is the meaningless Victoria vs Luis Angel Firpo game.

The final group games take place on Thursday, October 24. The first game sees Houston travel to Panama to take on Arabe Unido. Houston needs some sort of result to guarantee their advancement to the knockout round. A loss on the road and they're done. With a must win game in league play (that still may not get them into the playoffs), the Dynamo could potentially sacrifice the CCL in hopes of making the playoffs.

The late game features another MLS team with their playoff seeding still in question. Unlike Houston though, the Galaxy have clinched advancement already. While the Galaxy are likely worried about seeding for next year, they're likely to be more focused on the MLS playoffs and their game on Sunday against the Sounders. Even then the Galaxy reserves may well be enough to take out Isidro Metapan on the road.

Realistically for Sporting KC I think if they advance, they'll be somewhere between the 3rd and 6th seed when the games are finished. Personally I'm really hoping that KC can avoid MLS killer, Herculez Gomez and Tijuana. I'm sure Gomez would love to stick it to Peter Vermes.

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