As expected, MLS clubs are finding it tough going in the early stages of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Not surprising since the continental competition begins before any MLS club has engaged in a fully competitive fixture, while other league in the Confederation are at least six rounds into competition.
Still there’s been no seismic shocks like Toronto’s 0-4 reverse at Independiente of Panama last year, at least not yet. New York City FC and Seattle Sounders facing trips to Costa Rica and Honduras this evening, need to guarantee that says the same.
Los Angeles FC making its Champions League debut have recorded the worst result so far, but were involved in the most difficult encounter; away to LigaMX club Leon who won 2-0. They looked rusty as well they might and now face an uphill struggle to prolong life in the competition beyond the Round of 16.
As well as the Impact’s creditable 2-2 draw in San Jose, Atlanta United felt some tremors down in Honduras and had Josef Martinez to thank for an equalizer against domestic table-toppers, Motagua. The teams are deadlocked at 1-1 heading back to Georgia.
Elsewhere, Portmore United, lying 3rd in the Jamaican Premier Division went down narrowly, 1-2, at home to the more celebrated Cruz Azul, currently residing in the top six of LigaMX.
Of course LigaMX clubs have dominated this competition down through the years, but a couple of their other clubs have struggled this week on trips to Guatemala, where Club America needed a 90th minute Sebastian Cordova goal to secure a draw against Comunicaciones, currently top of the Guatemalan league, and Tigres, last season’s beaten finalists who led before succumbing 1-2 in El Salvador to Alianza.
Tigres are struggling in this season’s LigaMX Clausura in mid-table with more defeats than wins after half a dozen games, so perhaps there was the hint of a shock beforehand. Nevertheless you would expect all the Mexican teams not to slip up at home even if most of the scorelines appear finely balanced after the first-legs.
The two best balanced and most unpredictable ties remain the same ones as before a ball was kicked: Montreal Impact v Deportivo Saprissa and Los Angeles FC v Leon, and although I do expect Montreal and Leon to advance, you just never know in CONCACAF Champions League.
Round of 16, 1st Leg Results -
Portmore United (JAM).... 1 Cruz Azul (MEX).... 2
Motagua (HON).... 1 Atlanta United (USA).... 1
Club Leon (MEX).... 2 Los Angeles FC (USA).... 0
Deportivo Saprissa (CRA).... 2 Montreal Impact (CAN).... 2
Alianza (SLV).... 2 Tigres (MEX).... 1
Comunicaciones (GUA).... 1 Club America (MEX).... 1
San Carlos (CRA) v New York City FC (USA)
Olimpia (HON) v Seattle Sounders (USA)