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Concacaf Champions League Preview: Rapids, CF Montreal staring down elimination, and more


The Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 comes to a conclusion this week with a pair of MLS clubs currently needing a second leg victory to avoid elimination.

Both the Colorado Rapids and CF Montreal return home staring down respective 1-0 scorelines after suffering road defeats last week. Although the odds might be against them, both of the MLS hosts will have home-field advatage as they try and remain in the competition.

New York City FC faces off with Santos de Guapiles on Wednesday in California, sitting pretty with a 2-0 aggregate lead. Valentin Castellanos might be linked with a move away from the club, but for now he comes into the second leg as the leading goalscorer of the Champions League.

The Seattle Sounders fought to earn a scoreless draw against Honduran side Motagua last week and now return to Lumen Field, knowing improvement is needed. Seattle failed to register a single shot on target away from home, but will have its top attackers ready to go for Thursday’s second leg.

Here is a closer look at this week’s Concacaf Champions League action:

Colorado Rapids vs. Comunicaciones FC

(8 p.m. ET Wednesday, FS2, Comunicaciones leads 1-0 on aggregate)

The Colorado Rapids almost escaped Guatemala with a favorable result in its return to the Concacaf Champions League, but now Robin Fraser’s side has 90 minutes on Wednesday to stay alive in the competition.

A late thunderbolt from Karel Espino handed Comunicaciones a 1-0 first leg win on home soil and now sets the stage for what should be a thrilling second leg at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

The Rapids failed to test Kevin Moscoso in the Comunicaciones goal last week and will need more from their offensive weapons to advance. Diego Rubio and Jonathan Lewis partnered one another in Guatemala, but Michael Barrios could come into the attack with the Rapids up against the wall.

CF Montreal vs. Santos Laguna

(8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Fox Soccer Plus, TUDN, Santos Laguna leads 1-0 on aggregate)

CF Montreal was the second of two MLS clubs to suffer defeat last week, but like all of them, the Canadian club will be returning to home soil on Wednesday.

Wilfried Nancy’s squad showed promising signs against Santos Laguna in the first leg and ultimately will pull out all stops to knock off one of the favorites in the competition. Djordje Mihailovic and Romell Quioto remain a deadly duo for CF Montreal while Victor Wanyama adds physicality to the midfield.

Santos Laguna tied FC Juarez 0-0 over the weekend and could have some tired legs after making zero changes to the squad that defeated CF Montreal in Mexico last week.

Seattle Sounders vs. CD Motagua

(10:45 p.m. ET Thursday, FS2, Teams tied 0-0 on aggregate)

The Seattle Sounders did not play well in their first leg draw with CD Motagua, but will be confident this week with the home crowd behind them at Lumen Field.

Brian Schmetzer’s side lacked the final touch in front of goal last week, registering only one shot on goal out of six in total. Albert Rusnak made his club debut in the draw while 16-year-old Obed Vargas delivered a strong shift in his tournament debut. Veteran players like Jordan Morris, Raul Ruidiaz and others will be important if the Sounders want to avoid a shocking loss at home.

CD Motagua drew Lobos UPNFM 0-0 on Saturday and will do their best to silence out the noise in Washington. Jonathan Nunez and Raul Santos were among the top players for the Honduran club in last week’s first leg and will hope to be impactful this time around.

New York City FC vs. Santos de Guapiles

(6 p.m. ET Wednesday, FS2, TUDN, NYCFC leads 2-0 on aggregate)

New York City FC is sitting pretty after a first leg win in Costa Rica last week and now returns to the United States with two goals in its back pocket.

Ronny Deila’s side will use Banc of California as host for Wednesday’s second leg, knowing Santos de Guapiles will throw everything at them to stay in the competition. Valentin Castellanos picked up where he left off in 2021 by scoring twice last week and remains one of the top forwards in the competition.

Gedion Zelalem and Maxi Moralez also impressed for NYCFC in its first leg victory.

Santos de Guapiles lost 4-1 in league play to Guadalupe FC on Friday and overall has only won once of its last seven matches across all competitions. Josimar Mendez and Douglas Lopez are the attacking players that NYCFC will have to monitor to avoid any slip-ups.

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