Following the 2011-12 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, won by Monterrey in the final over Santos Laguna, Goal.com breaks out a Best XI of the participants.
Jonathan Orozco (Monterrey)
Behind Pumas, the Rayados allowed the least amount of goals in the group stage of the competition, and only allowed three goals in the four matches leading up to the final. Orozco shined in the final, spectacularly saving surefire goals from Cristian Suarez and Carlos Darwin Quintero that could have shifted the balance of the series Santos' way. In the second leg, he held them to two goals despite a monstrous attack that yielded more than 15 shots on goal in just the first hour of the match.
Iván Estrada (Santos Laguna)
"Guty" was a constant source of danger for opposing defenses, creating attacks from the wingback position that several teams were just not equipped to handle. Estrada was close to a spectacular strike in the final's second leg, but was denied by Jonathan Orozco in dramatic fashion. Defensively, Estrada was a rock and a source of security for Santos goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez.
José María Basanta (Monterrey)
Along with Hiram Mier, Basanta made up the best pair of central defenders in the competition. The Argentine is the unquestioned leader of the Monterrey defense, and showed up to stifle some of the continent's best attacks. He was key in avoiding a third goal in the final's second leg that would have been catastrophic for Monterrey.
Darío Verón (Pumas)
Responsible for Pumas' great run in the group stage, allowing just two goals over six matches. The Paraguay international is one of the most important veteran presences on a team that relies heavily on its youth team production. Veron was an important presence in the middle of the defensive third of the field for the Mexico City side that was eventually dispatched in the semifinals.
Joao Plata (Toronto FC)
Used primarily as a winger or a second striker, the Ecuadorian was lethal in CONCACAF Champions League play, netting six goals that proved key throughout Toronto FC's run to the semifinals, the deepest in team history as well as the first Canadian team to make it that far into the continental competition.
Paolo Suárez (Isidro Metapán)
The Uruguay-born, naturalized Salvadorian midfielder is the most important player at his club, and a strong candidate to lead El Salvador through the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. In the CCL, Suarez scored four goals and pushed his team through a treacherous group stage. Metapan was the only non-Mexican or MLS club to make it to the quarterfinals, largely due to Suarez.
Neri Cardozo (Monterrey)
Monterrey has several players to thank for its back-to-back championships, but none more heroic than Neri Cardozo, who scored the clincher just eight minutes from the end of regulation in the final. The Argentine avoided a penalty shootout with a marvelous goal that gave him his first international title since his Boca Juniors days and third trophy overall with the Rayados.
Hérculez Gómez (Santos Laguna)
Of course we know that Herc is usually a striker. However, Benjamin Galindo used the former U.S. international primarily as a winger during the CCL campaign in order to create more goals on an already dangerous front line. Gomez was an absolute game-changer when coming off the bench, and ended up scoring six goals in key moments en route to Santos' finals appearance.
Oribe Peralta (Santos Laguna)
Peralta is the man in form these days, and his seven goals tied Humerto Suazo for the competition's top scorer trophy. Without Oribe, Santos' offensive production drops noticeably, and the former Monterrey striker has also become a valuable commodity for the Mexican national team. His impressive ability is reminiscent of another former Santos legend: Jared Borgetti.
Jorge Barbosa (Herediano)
The Brazilian was a contender for Golden Boot winner all the way to the finals, despite his team having been eliminated in the group stage. A great accomplishment for Barbosa, who bagged six goals for the Costa Rica outfit. We're left to wonder what the grand total would have been should Herediano have crawled into the knockout stages.
Humberto Suazo (Monterrey)
Once upon a time, Suazo was considered the best player in the entire Mexican league by the lion's share of pundits. After a messy near-divorce with Monterrey, the Chilean came back firing on all cylinders and has now regained his old form. Monterrey sorely missed him in the second leg, which he missed due to a suspension. Seven goals, the tourney's Golden Boot and another trip to Japan cap off a great tournament for Suazo.