FOXBORO MA - SEPTEMBER 4: Steve Zakuani #11 of the Seattle Sounders FC pulls up his sock after the the New England Revolution scored their third goal in the second half at Gillette Stadium on September 4 2010 in Foxboro Massachusetts. The Revolution won 3-1. Photo by Gail Oskin/Getty Images)

CONCACAF Champions League: Columbus Within Reach Of Group B Control

Toronto moves on from Mo Johnstaon and Preki with tonight's CONCACAF Champions League match at Rio Tinto.

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CONCACAF Champions League Preview, Predictions: Group A Looks To Break Its Four-Way Tie

Less than an hour until the night’s first CONCACAF Champions League kick-off, a busy day of covering multiple Champions Leagues finds the SB Nation Soccer Desk running short on grains as the hour glass streams. But the matches don’t stop, so fingers won't either, as we have time to do a snap preview of tonight’s action, starting in Toluca:

Toluca versus Puerto Rico Islanders, Group D, 8:00 p.m. Eastern - With a weekend match against America, Toluca is likely to hold something in reserve, even if Puerto Rico has proved time-and-time again that they’re capable of steering a Colin Clarke plan to an upset. There’s a reason they’re in the competition at the expense of the Los Angeles Galaxy, and there’s a reason they're tied with the Red Devils at the top of Group D.

Unfortunately for the Islanders, they will be without injured Nicholas Adderly, their leading goal scorer in this competition. They’ll be reliant on David Foley, he of the eight USSF Division II tallies.

Árabe Unido versus Cruz Azul, Group A, 10:00 p.m. Eastern - The last time Cruz Azul was on the road in CCL, they lost at Toronto, a result that now looks like a huge "Yikes." They rebounded with a monsoon shootout win against Real Salt Lake. After that slug-fest, La Maquina may be looking at their trip to Panama as a realtive reprieve.

Toronto lost at Árabe Unido 1-0 in a depressing contest last match day. Cruz Azul should be able to better that result.

Real Salt Lake versus Toronto, Group A, 10:00 p.m. Eastern - The novelty of seeing two Major League Soccer teams face-off in the continental competition has been overshadowed by changes in Toronto. Preki is gone, as is Mo Johnston, leaving TFC in flux. This seems too soon and too difficult a venue to expect them to turnaround, but as was hinted by the drastic nature of Tuesday’s announcements, there is little place to go but up. Toronto sits ninth in MLS, but it’s been some time since they played well. Their last good performance may have been a month ago, beating Cruz Azul at BMO in the crucial match behind Group A’s current four-way tie.

Predictions

GroupTimeHomeRoadPick
D 8:00 p.m., Eastern Toluca Puerto Rico Islanders 2-1, Toluca
A 10:00 p.m., Eastern Árabe Unido Cruz Azul 3-1, Cruz Azul
A 10:00 p.m., Eastern Real Salt Lake Toronto 2-0, Real Salt Lake

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CONCACAF Champions League Review: Rising, Treading, Falling After Tuesday

Tuesday’s big result in CONCACAF Champions League saw Santos Laguna drop points in Guatemala to Municipal. The 2-2 drawn redefined the race at the top of Group B, with Santos now in danger of losing their group to Columbus.

That makes the Crew Tuesday night’s big winners, but they aren’t the only ones standing a bit taller after the first day of CCL’s third round. Monterrey, in particular, took another step forward, affirming their place at the top of Group C.

Here’s how the eight clubs who contested Tuesday’s matches fared, looking back on the results almost a day later.

Rising

Columbus Crew - After an expected but convincing result against Joe Public, Columbus find Group B's first place within their grasp. Santos Laguna’s unexpected draw in Guatemala leaves the Crew one point behind the Guerreros with their remaining match against the Mexican power taking place in Ohio next Tuesday. Then, the Crew will need a win, but having taken Santos to the brink in Round 2’s trip to Mexico (a 1-0 loss), Columbus has reason to think themselves capable of scoring MLS’s first group win.

Monterrey - Their 2-0 home win over Marathón can been looked at as merely treading water, but Santos’s trip to Guatemala showed nothing can be taken for granted. Monterrey is perfect through three rounds of a tough group and should be able to cruise through this remainder of this phase without distracting themselves from the Apertura.

Treading

Municipal - A late penalty kick from Carlos Castillo gets Municipal an unexpected point, drawing Santos 2-2, but little has improved for the Guatemalans after Tuesday’s results. They sit four back of second place Columbus, so they’ll need help to pass the Crew, even if they get three points from them at the Mateo Flores. Tuesday night’s was a good point, but it did little to change the race for second place.

Deportivo Saprissa - Playing most of their match with Seattle up a man, Saprissa ultimately held serve, getting three points from the Sounders to move into sole possession of Group C’s second place. The key match for the Costa Ricans remains next week’s trip to Honduras, where a win would put them six up (with two to play) on Marathón.

Marathon- Likewise, Marathón stays on-course despite losing 2-0 at Monterrey. They should have never expected points at the Technologico, and only three back of Saprissa, a win next Wednesday pulls them back into the race for second place. Unfortunately, their 4-1 loss in Costa Rica means the Hondurans have to be worried about more than merely winning.

Falling

Santos Laguna - Losing Group B is now a possibility, if not a probability. They barely beat Columbus at home, and while that may have awaken Santos ahead of next Tuesday’s trip to Ohio, it may also portend a Crew home victory. Even with Municipal’s strong Tuesday showing, Columbus should be slight favorites to get three points in Guatemala, which means Santos must get at least one point next week; else, they lose control of the group. It will be interesting to see if this effects the Warriors’ weekend selection, with Santos hosting recently promoted Necaxa.

Joe Public - The Trinidadians where unable to replicate their draw in Guatemala, with their injuries and suspensions proving too much to overcome over  90 minutes. While Joe Public’s descended to the bottom of Group B is not surprising, their loss at Columbus still finds them falling farther out of the competition.

Seattle - The only team in the competition without a point, it’s time for Seattle to move on. Math says they still have a chance, but having work to do in MLS, Sigi Schmid needs to be pragmatic.

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CONCACAF Champions League Preview, Predictions: Seattle Looks To Stay Alive In Saprissa

CONCACAF Champions League returns Tuesday night with a schedule designed to ease us back in after the competition's short hiatus. With the international match break, CCL took three weeks off, and rather than toss us back in with schedule of toss-up, confusing, "no clue what to make of this" matches, the confederation gives us four games with clear favorites.

The first two kick-off at 8:00 p.m. Eastern with Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew hosting Trinidad and Tobago's Joe Public. At the same time, Monterrey welcomes Honduran power Marathón at the Tecnológico.

Despite Marathón's history of success, they are unlikely to give Monterrey trouble should the Rayados put their best foot forward. That's not always guaranteed from Mexican clubs trying to balance league and CCL, but with Monterrey holding the second-best record in the Apertura, they're in sufficient form to handle Marathón.  The Hondurans have only one point from their last two league matches and lost 4-1 to Deportivo Saprissa in their last Champions League contest.

As a result, Marathón has switched coaches, dismissing Nicolas Suazo, replacing him with Edwin Pavon. That along with the suspension of Randy Diamond makes a Marathón upset even more unlikely.  Monterrey should get to nine points after their third match and be able to cruise to first place in the group of death (Group C).

At the same time, Columbus will try to avoid a slip against visiting Joe Public, a team with one point through two Group B matches. Columbus is looking to take a stranglehold of second place, currently sitting on three points with the potential to go five clear of third and fourth after Tuesday night's games.

Visa problems and suspensions leave Joe Public coach Derek King with only 16 players for tonight's match, with starting defenders Jevon Morris and Jason Springer out. It makes for a back line that should be easy pickings for Andres Mendoza, set to make his first Columbus start.

At 10 p.m. Eastern, Group B leaders Santos Laguna will be in Guatemala to face Municipal, who are coming off a 1-1 home draw with Joe Public.  Santos is looking to move to a perfect nine points but will try to do so without most of their star players. Daniel Luduena, Christian Benitez, and Juan Pablo Rodriguez stayed in Mexico after this weekend's 5-2 route at the hands of Queretaro.  A similarly weakened team got a 5-2 Round 1 win at Joe Public, where José Cárdenas had four goals.

Elsewhere in Central America, Seattle Sounders FC are trying to keep their Champions League alive. With Marathón not looking as strong as anticipated, Seattle will likely have to out-point Deportivo Saprissa for second place behind Monterrey. If Seattle loses tonight at Estadio Saprissa, they'll be six back of Deportivo with three matches left - one of those matches giving Saprissa a chance to get more points from a Marathón team they just beat 4-1. If Seattle doesn't win tonight, they'll need help from Saprissa to make the knock-out round.

Predictions

GroupTimeHomeRoadPick
B 8:00 p.m. Eastern Columbus Crew Joe Public 2-0, Columbus
C 8:00 p.m. Eastern Monterrey Marathón 4-0, Monterrey
B 10:00 p.m. Eastern Municipal Santos Laguna 3-1, Santos
C 10:00 p.m. Eastern Deportivo Saprissa Seattle Sounders 2-1, Saprissa
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