CCL: Unlikely is not the same as Unwatchable

ccl gold logo

Austin Fido is hoping there’s still time to persuade OTF readers to catch the second-leg matches of the Concacaf Champions League semi-finals…

If either Seattle or LA manage to come back from Mexico this week with a win, the MLS commentariat will froth itself into a monumental, panting, shuddering hype-gasm. And for once, it will be justified.

Because the prospect of an MLS club advancing to the Concacaf Champions League final this year is about as likely as my aunt being a sufficiently astute financier to be appointed to a position of authority within the Nigerian economy without ever having grasped the mechanics of international money transfers, and therefore being forced to plead with strangers on the internet to assist her with the baffling task of getting her profits from massive fraud life’s savings out of the West African banking system and into the checking account of a generous-spirited individual with an inadequate understanding of email spam filters.

Which is to say this might be a good time to retire the MLS vs. Liga MX narrative and simply enjoy some good soccer. What else are you going to do on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, laundry?

Here are a few suggestions to persuade you to let last week’s clothes stew a while longer in the sweet broth of your daily secretions…

logo_santos_lagunaSeattle Sounders FC

Club Santos Laguna vs. Seattle Sounders FC 

4/9 8:00 pm (Eastern) – Fox Soccer

What happened in the 1st leg?

Sounders 0 – 1 CSL

Injuries and a lack of form caused Sigi Schmid to send out a 4-5-1 formation with the improbable ambition of getting a goal out of Sammy Ochoa. CSL brought just about the best three-man front line in the region. The home team tried to stifle, disrupt, and counter while the visitors looked to get forward quickly and fire shots on goal whenever possible. Herculez Gomez scored a peach.

Expect both sides to rely on much the same tactics in the second leg.

Except this time the teams are playing in Torreon and CSL have only conceded 3 goals at home in this year’s Clausura. Eddie Johnson is fit enough to play for Seattle, but probably not fit enough to start. Obafemi Martins will still be missing. Mauro Rosales and Steve Zakuani are still out of form. Thus, it doesn’t look as though the Sounders will have the tools to test Santos Laguna’s defense.

Which is why it is entirely reasonable to expect Seattle to get trounced in Torreon.

Why should I skip laundry for this?

1. Santos Laguna’s front three

Gomez. Peralta. Quintero.

If you want a sense of what Caleb Porter and Oscar Pareja are trying to do with Portland and Colorado, allow CSL to demonstrate what can be done with three intelligent, attacking players who know each other well.

2. The continued education of DeAndre Yedlin

The homegrown sensation with the homegrown hairstyle is holding down the starting right back position for the Sounders. Don’t be fooled. Although the man may like a little razzmatazz from his barber, his soccer is as pragmatic as a buzz cut. This match will be a test he may not pass, but that shouldn’t trouble him or you. Everyone can enjoy watching young talent develop.

3. The upset

It isn’t likely. If it’s even still possible by half-time, it will be an achievement. But it could happen. And if it does, you’ll be sorry you missed it.

cf monterrey logo LA Galaxy

CF Monterrey vs LA Galaxy

4/10 10:00 pm (Eastern) – Fox Soccer

What happened in the 1st leg?

Galaxy 1 – 2 Monterrey

A really good game of soccer happened. LA scored first and tried to cling on to that lead. Monterrey never gave up on the objective of at least getting a goal out of their trip. Humberto Suazo doesn’t score as often as he used to, but he scored in this one. Aldo de Nigris got the winner in stoppage time.

The Galaxy have the players to score in Estadio Tecnologico. Which is good, because they need to score at least two goals to neutralize Monterrey’s first-leg advantage. But it’s hard to stop the Rayados from scoring at home. They’ve tallied 12 goals in 6 games in Monterrey during the Clausura.

So this second-leg could get very open, very quickly.

Why should I skip laundry for this?

1. Jose Villareal

At the moment, he’s a highlight waiting to happen every time he gets the ball. In the first leg, his pace and control turned a hopeful punt up the field into a filleting of Monterrey’s defense. He created the space for Robbie Keane, Mike Magee and A.J. DeLaGarza to combine for LA’s goal.

This match is the biggest of his career to date, and he’s a guy who seems to enjoy the limelight.

2. Donovan vs Suazo

How often do you get to see the all-time leading scorers for their respective clubs square off against each other? And neither is lacking for motivation.

For Suazo, this could be his last CCL tournament for some time, as Monterrey’s Clausura chances look about as good as Seattle’s probability of beating CSL. The way things stand for Los Rayados, it’s unlikely they’ll be playing in the next CCL. But Monterrey has owned this competition the past two years.

If Suazo can lead his club to a third consecutive CCL title, he can help make the case for allowing champions to defend this trophy by right, because next year’s CCL will certainly be devalued if Monterrey three-peats but misses out on the chance for four-in-a-row.

For Donovan, it’s all about the comeback. He should get more minutes in this game than he’s had since he returned from his walkabout. A big performance will send a lot of journos scrambling to delete the “Donovan’s Decline” stories they’ve been working on since last year’s MLS Cup final.

3. The upset

If it’s a reason to watch Seattle vs CSL, then it’s a reason to watch this match. LA’s chances are slightly better than those of the Sounders – in much the same way that my chances of playing for Chicago Fire are slightly better than my chances of playing for Barcelona.

But there’s a chance.

Surely, even the remote possibility of seeing something epically improbable is a better way to spend an evening than the tedious certainty of laundry.

OTF contributing writer Austin Fido is a friend of the game and enemy of the passive offside. Follow him @canetop

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