Here's how the CONCACAF Champions League works. You have to get positive results at home and points snatched on the road could be enough to send you through to the knockout rounds. So it should come as no surprise that the home teams did exceedingly well in the first round of the group stage.
Only one team, Joe Public, lost their group stage home opener. To the surprise of absolutely nobody who follows the competition that loss came at the hands of Santos Laguna, a Mexican team. Aside from Santos the only other visiting sides to walk away with points came from Group D where both matches ended in draws and all four teams walked away level on points.
The idea that CONCACAF road matches offer numerous challenges that are fairly unique is not a new one. Even for the national teams of Mexico and the USA the challenges of the road can be tough to overcome despite often having vastly superior talent on many occasions. Pitch quality, weather and questionable officiating all play into the scenario, but the point remains the same - the road is tough in CONCACAF.
On paper it was a great start to the CCL group stages for Major League Soccer. Three winners, Columbus, Real Salt Lake and Toronto, with Seattle as the only loser week one. But the initial week of action does not tell the whole story. Despite having three points in the bag the three winners really haven't done much in the way of securing a spot in the next round, nor does a 2-1 loss to Marathon in Honduras put Seattle in a particularly bad spot in Group C.
What is does do in set up a second week that should begin to answer the questions about which teams will really grab an early advantage.
Toronto is in a prime position to take the lead in Group A. A win in Panama against Arabe Unido would set TFC up well, especially considering that co-group leaders RSL will have the mammoth task of taking on Cruz Azul in Mexico. For Salt Lake, a win in Mexico would obviously be massive and set them up with possibly the easiest closing schedule. But beating Cruz Azul at the Estadio Azul, where Los Cementeros seem to take the competition much more seriously, will be no easy task.
Columbus could also take up a power position in their Group B with a win in Mexico against Santos, but there are some long odds for the MSL side to overcome with no American team having ever toppled one of the Mexican giants in a match played south of the border. Still, Columbus has the talent to play with Santos on any given night especially if the Mexican side overestimates their home-field advantage.
Seattle, at home to Monterrey, will be the only MLS side hoping that the home team dominance continues. A loss in week two would dig the Sounders into a ditch that it could be hard to climb out of considering that Group C is probably the toughest of the competition. The Sounders need a win badly, but a win and a Saprissa victory over Marathon would put all four teams in the group back on level pegging.
Group D is wide open at this point after the draws in week one, but Toluca and Municipal have the advantage of home games in week two, after both having been on the road last time out, and look to cement their places as group favorites.
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