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CCL Preview: NYCFC, Atlanta United headline MLS contingent hosting second legs

Five MLS teams return home this week with spots in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals up for grabs.

NYCFC is the lone MLS side to return to the United States with an advantage while four others teams will seek strong performances on home soil.

Tuesday will see Atlanta United host Motagua at Fifth Third Bank Stadium looking to eliminate the Honduran side from the competition. Josef Martinez scored the first goal of the season for the Five Stripes, who will look to use the support of the home crowd to score early and often.

Wednesday will see Red Bull Arena play host to NYCFC’s home date with San Carlos. Heber stole the show in Costa Rica with a hat trick, and the five road goals have NYCFC sitting as comfortable favorites to advance.

The Montreal Impact also return home, tied 2-2 with Deportivo Saprissa. Thierry Henry will be without defender Rudy Camacho, who suffered a knee injury 18 minutes into the first-leg draw.

Thursday sees the final two MLS sides in action with LAFC and Seattle Sounders playing host at their respective stadiums. Bob Bradley’s side is down 2-0 against Liga MX side Club Leon and will need a masterclass performance from Carlos Vela at Banc of California Stadium.

Joao Paolo and Jordan Morris each scored against Olimpia last week, but the Costa Rican side fought back to earn a 2-2 draw. CenturyLink Field will see the defending MLS Cup winners try to avoid an early exit from the competition.

Here’s a closer look at the matchups facing the five MLS teams in the Round-of-16 second legs:

Atlanta United vs. CD Motagua

(Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET, FS1, Teams tied 1-1 on aggregate with Atlanta United leading on away goals tiebreaker)

The goals came in quick fashion in Honduras last week between Atlanta United and Motagua, but Tuesday’s second leg in Georgia could see a more passive approach.

Josef Martinez scored the lone goal for the Five Stripes, finding the back of the net a minute after Roberto Moreira’s opener, Martinez will be the danger man for Atlanta United once again, but could use help from fellow playmakers Ezequiel Barco and Pity Martinez.

Miles Robinson isn’t expected to play as he continues to recover from injury, meaning Fernando Meza and Anton Walkes could start together once again.

Motagua will have to deal with the ever-dangerous Five Stripes attack, and is coming in off a scoreless league draw against Real de Minas on Saturday.

NYCFC vs. San Carlos

(Wednesday, 6 p.m. ET,, FS2, Univision Deportes, NYCFC leads 5-3 on aggregate)

The first meeting between these teams was an eight-goal thriller which saw NYCFC run out winners.

Red Bull Arena will play host to the second leg with the MLS side favorites to advance to the quarterfinals. Heber scored a hat trick while Alexandru Mitrita and Alexander Callens also got on the scoresheet.

Mitrita’s late goal in the first leg makes things all more difficult for San Carlos in their trip to the East Coast on Wednesday.

If the visitors want any chance of advancing, they will need to avoid conceding at all in Harrison.

NYCFC showed they can score goals in a bunch of ways in the first leg and will be comfortable just grinding out a result. Omar Browne came off the bench to score for San Carlos and could very well get the start against NYCFC in the second leg.

San Carlos comes in off a 1-0 league win over Grecia with Julio Cesar Cruz scoring a late winner at home. He has five goals in eight league appearances this season.

Montreal Impact vs. Deportivo Saprissa

(Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET, FS2, Teams tied 2-2 on aggregate with Impact holding away goal tiebreaker)

The Montreal Impact raced out to an early lead in Costa Rica, but allowed a pair of late goals to slump to a first leg draw against Saprissa.

Orji Okwonkwo and Romell Quioto headline the Impact attack heading into the second leg after both scoring last week. Saphir Taider and Luis Binks are both eligible for selection in Thierry Henry’s squad, but Rudy Camacho will miss out after suffering a knee injury.

With Camacho out, it will be interesting to see who fills into the backline and whether or not Henry stays with a 3-4-3 formation used in Costa Rica.

Johan Venegas and Ariel Rodriguez each scored in a ten-minute span to earn Saprissa a chance at advancing in Montreal this Wednesday. Christian Bolanos netted a hat trick in a 3-1 league win this weekend and could force his way into the starting lineup for the trip to Stade Saputo.

Seattle Sounders vs. Olimpia

(Thursday, 10 p.m. ET, FS2, Teams tied 2-2 on aggregate, Sounders hold away goal tiebreaker)

The Seattle Sounders looked likely to run away with a multi-goal win against Olimpia last week, but ultimately had to deal with a draw on Caribbean soil.

Brian Schmetzer’s side return home to CenturyLink Field knowing a scoreless draw is all they need to advance. However, the likes of Jordan Morris, Raul Ruidiaz, and Joao Paulo all impressed last week and will look to earn an impressive win at home.

Miguel Ibarra could make his club debut after signing as a free agent prior to the first leg.

Olimpia is coming off a 5-0 thumping of Marathon this weekend with Jose Pinto and Jorge Ramirez both scoring braces in the victory. The Hondurans come in riding a five-match unbeaten run in all competitions and will look to slow the game down and frustrate the home Sounders.

LAFC vs. Club Leon

(Thursday, 10 p.m. ET, FS2, TUDN, Club Leon leads 2-0 on aggregate)

LAFC suffered a 2-0 loss at Club Leon last week, being opened up on both goalscoring occasions. Now Bob Bradley’s side has it all to do on home soil if they want to keep their Concacaf Champions League hopes alive.

Despite out-possessing their Liga MX opponents, LAFC lacked the final product in front of goal after recording only one shot on goal out of 12 in total.

Walker Zimmerman’s move to Nashville SC has left Bradley with a hole in the backline, with Dejan Jakovic having stepped into the spot next to regular starter Eddie Segura. Bradley Wright-Phillips did not make the 18-man squad last week and won’t play in the return leg.

Jean Meneses’ two-goal performance over the weekend led Leon to a 2-1 win over Necaxa in the Apertura. The Chilean scored the first goal against LAFC last week and will look to do the same at Banc of California Stadium on Thursday.

Here are the remaining Concacaf Champions League first legs:

Cruz Azul (MEX) vs. Portmore United (JAM) (Tuesday, 10 p.m. ET, Cruz Azul leads 2-1 on aggregate)

Tigres (MEX) vs. Alianza FC (SLV) (Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET, Alianza leads 2-1 on aggregate) 

Club America (MEX) vs. Comunicaciones FC (GUA) (Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET, Teams are tied 1-1 on aggregate with Club America holding away goal tiebreaker) 


  1. NYC need to lose by 2 in any game that doesn’t include 8 goals or more and they are through. NYC moves on
    Atlanta needs to win at home versus weaker team. Atl moves on
    Sounders. They look great times, tired and bad at times. At home. Sounders moves on ( I am fan, so biased here )
    Montreal I think is a toss up for me. Home, but they don’t look that strong.
    LAFC I think they are in trouble. Zero away goals means give up one goal, they need to score 4, and their D looked very inconsistant.
    I expect Tigres ( down 2-1) to win and survive, but if they don’t that side of the bracket is much, much weaker and an relatively easy route for my Sounders


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