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CONCACAF Champions League: Columbus, Toronto On The Road

Santos Laguna’s hot starts to Mexico’s Apertura and CONCACAF Champions League forces Major League Soccer fans to guard expectations ahead of Columbus’s trip to Torreón tonight. The Guerreros are on top of Mexico’s opening tournament with twelve points through five matches, and having blown through Joe Public last week in Trinidad, Santos sits on top of Champions League Group B. They seem an unlikely candidate to become the first Mexican team to lose on home soil to Major League Soccer competition.

Columbus, however, has reason for hope. They played in Mexico twice in the last tournament, showing improvement between their August and March matches. In group stage, the Crew lost 5-0 to a Cruz Azul team that was hitting on all cylinders. Seven months later, when Columbus went to Toluca for the second leg of their quarterfinal, Robert Warzycha’s team nearly made history. The second goal of the match from Guillermo Barros Schelotto had Columbus drawn 2-2 with 20 minutes left, but a quick response from Sinha eliminated the Crew, 3-2.

If Columbus is going to improve on that result, they’ll do so without their best player. Schelotto will miss the game, as will their most important defender, Chad Marshall.

Santos, coming off a weekend loss to Tigres, is not expected to play their first choice squad, with goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez already confirmed to be replaced by Miguel Becerra.

Toronto Looks To Rebound

Until this weekend, Toronto had feasted on competition at BMO Field, but coming off a 4-1 loss to New York - their first at home this year - TFC might relish a trip to Panama. That's where Preki's team (tied with Real Salt Lake atop Group A) will play tonight, taking on Árabe Unido.

Last year Houston was able to get a 1-1 draw with Panamanian champions, though Árabe had markedly better group stage, home results against Pachuca (4-1) and Isidro Metapan (6-0). Coming off a match last week that saw only a 94th minute penalty kick separate them from a point at Rio Tinto, the Árabes should be favored to handle Toronto.

Defenders Andres Santamaria and Nahil Carroll will be missing for the hosts, both suspended after seeing red cards against RSL.

Forward Chad Barrett is a doubt for Toronto, suffering from a hamstring problem; however, Julian de Guzman returns to the team after being suspended for the Red Bulls match.