The Islanders have a chance to do USL proud in this group
Santos Laguna was my pick to win the Superliga tournament. They bowed out in the group stage. Will the Champions League be any different? Santos stout defense starts with Oswaldo Sanchez once again the undisputed number one for Mexico ahead of the young and inconsistent Guille Ochoa. Edgar Castillio, the US native gives Santos an excellent man marker and attacking minded left back. Chrsitian Benetiz is one of the most dangerous attacking players in the FMF and his continued sharp shooting will keep Santos on top of this group.
However after Santos any scenario is possible. You really have three evenly matched sides. For sentiments sake, I am going to be a homer and pick the lone USL or MLS club in this group, Puerto Rico second. However the Orange Troop could finish last in this group as well. Colin Clarke is one of the best coaches at an American club. His tenure at Dallas Burn/FC Dallas was cut short even though he had built the club from a laughingtsock who had an identity crisis and the MLS worst record to the Western Conference Regular Season Champions. Clarke has been allowed time to build the Islanders and he had made the side more athletic and tactically sound. Bill Gaudette is the hot keeper coming into the group stage: he’s helped lead Puerto Rico within a point of the USL-1 regular season title, which they can clinch this weekend and saved a momentous penalty in San Jose which eventually was the difference in eliminating Alajuelense one of the pre tournament favorites.
CSD Municipal features a number of players that are part of Guatemala’s national setup. Fredy Garcia may have washed out for the Columbus Crew but his exploits are near legendary with Municipal. Former Crew and Miami FC attacker “El Loco” Rodriguez did not stand out in USL-1 but that doesn’t mean the Islanders can shut him down. The US learned last month how difficult he can be to contain on home soil and expect a strong tournament from him.
Tauro FC did what they had to do against a depleted Chivas USA team to advance to the group stages. However given Chivas’ general weakness entering the tournament, Tauro’s performance was less than convincing. Nonetheless teams 2 thru 4 are evenly balanced in this group and Tauro certainly has as good a shot as Puerto Rico or Municipal of advancing.
1- Santos Laguna
2- Puerto Rico Islanders
3- CSD Municipal
4- Tauro FC