CCL Preview: Sounders drop in on Caledonia in Trinidad
AIA Caledonia vs. Seattle Sounders FC
Ato Bolden Stadium in Couva, Trinidad
CONCACAF Champions League Group 4
August 30, 2012
8 pm ET, Fox Soccer
After a quick turnaround in Seattle, Sounders FC hits the road for a two-game, 11,150-mile road trip that spans across two competitions in two countries over a six-day stretch. The journey begins on Thursday when the Rave Green visits Caledonia AIA for round two of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage. The match kicks off at 5 p.m. PT at Ato Bolden Stadium in Couva, Trinidad.
Sounders FC then heads to Frisco, Texas for the second time this season for a Western Conference matchup with FC Dallas on Sunday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. PT from FC Dallas Stadium.
Thursday’s match will be televised live on FOX Soccer. There will be no radio broadcast available. Sunday’s match will be televised live on KONG 6/16 with Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller on the call, and can also be heard on 97.3 KIRO FM.
A red-hot Seattle squad (12-6-7, 43 points) moved into a tie for second in the West with an entertaining 6-2 win at Chivas USA on Saturday night. Seattle is just seven points behind the Supporters’ Shield-leaders with one game in hand, and the start has been the best through 25 games in club history.
The four-goal margin of victory matched a franchise record, and Fredy Montero became just the fourth player in club history to score a hat trick – the first of the young Colombian’s MLS career. Montero and Eddie Johnson are now tied for fourth in the Budweiser Golden Boot race, and MLS assist leader Mauro Rosales has matched his club record of 13.
The focus now changes to Champions League play as Seattle (1-0-0, 3 points in CCL) visits Caledonia (0-0-1, 1 point in CCL) in the return leg of the group stage series. Sounders FC won the first meeting, 3-1 at CenturyLink Field on August 2.
Seattle is currently atop group four with three points through one game. Sounders FC will finish the group stage with a two-leg series against Honduras’ CD Marathon, beginning in San Pedro Sula on September 19 and concluding in Seattle on October 24.
A stretch of four of five away matches continues on Sunday as Sounders FC attempts to win its third in a row when it travels to Texas to meet a surging FC Dallas side (8-12-8, 32 points), who had won three straight before falling to Los Angeles on Sunday. Dallas is currently five points out of the fifth and final playoff spot in the West.
Sounders FC will return to the Emerald City in six days for a rare one-game home week. Seattle will host Chivas USA for the third and final meeting of the season on September 8 on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.
Fredy Montero has once again heated up in the summer months, and his three-goal display on Saturday night was perhaps the most impressive performance of his MLS career. It was the first hat trick for the Colombian goal scorer, becoming just the fourth player in club history to accomplish the feat. His 11 league goals are tied for the team lead with Eddie Johnson (fourth in MLS), and both are one-goal from tying Montero’s club record. He has scored six goals in his last four games – the only player in MLS to score in the past four and one away from tying the season record of five consecutive games with a goal.
Montero has scored 45 goals since joining MLS in 2009, the third-most behind Chris Wondolowski (57) and Dwayne De Rosario (48). His 45 goals ranks 14th among active players, and he became just the seventh player in MLS history to score 10-plus goals in his first four seasons. Of Montero’s 45 goals, 41 have come in wins (33) or draws (eight). Overall, he has 16 game-winning goals, which ranks ninth among active players.
The Argentine Engine
Mauro Rosales put on a great show on Saturday, assisting on all three Fredy Montero goals to tie his team record from last season. Rosales’s 13 assists ranks first in MLS, two more than David Beckham, Dwayne De Rosario and Graham Zusi. He has recorded 11 assists in his past 11 league outings, bringing his assists per 90 minutes to 0.76. Rosales has supported Seattle’s strikers effectively as 10 of his 13 assists have served Montero (four) or Eddie Johnson (six). His five game-winning assists is best in MLS, and he is three away from tying Mauricio Cienfuegoes’ (1999) and Steve Ralston’s (2000) all-time record of eight game-winning assists. Overall, he needs six assists in the last nine regular-season games to tie for second all-time.
A Stellar August
The month of August concluded in sensational fashion with the offensive fireworks at The Home Depot Center. In the four August MLS games this season, Seattle is 3-1-0 with a plus-seven goal differential, including three multi-goal games and two games of four or more goals. Overall, Seattle is 9-4-4 in 17 August matches, having gone undefeated (5-0-2) in 2010 and 2011. Sounders FC has outscored opponents 29-15 in August games, for an average of 1.71 goals per game. Fredy Montero joins in on the fun as he scored six goals in the four August games this year, marking the best four-game stretch of his career. Montero now has 10 career goals in August, his most productive month ahead of May, June and July (seven goals).
Sounders FC knows how to close out games when scoring first, improving to a league-best 12-0-1 in such games this season. Seattle was one of seven teams to go undefeated (11-0-3) when scoring first last season, and its current 27-game unbeaten streak (23-0-4) when scoring first is the second-longest active streak. The New York Red Bulls are undefeated in their last 54 games (39-0-15) when scoring first – the longest in league history.
Along with Seattle and New York, Chicago (7-0-1) and Houston (10-0-4) are the only other teams to go unbeaten when scoring first this season. The best record for a full season is 14-0-0 by Kansas City in 1997. A total of six teams have had streaks of 28 or more games.
Sounders FC continued to gain ground in the MLS Cup Playoffs with the win over Chivas USA, moving into a tie for second in the West with Real Salt Lake with two games in hand and a plus-three advantage in goals scored. Seattle is seven points behind Supporters’ Shield-leaders San Jose with one game in hand. Sounders FC is 5-3-5 against teams in playoff positions and has four games remaining against Western Conference teams currently in playoff positions (San Jose, Vancouver, Real Salt Lake and LA Galaxy). The Rave Green currently ranks fourth in points per game at 1.72. San Jose (1.92), Sporting KC (1.81) and New York (1.73) are ahead of Sounders FC.
On the Road, Again
Sounders FC returned from SoCal to the Pacific Northwest for a 40-hour stay before departing for a seven-day, 11,150-mile journey to Trinidad and then onto Dallas. Seattle will play four of the next five games across all competitions away from home. Overall, six of the team’s remaining 12 games will be played on the road. Seattle will travel an estimated 55,000 air miles in the 2012 season.
Champions League Preview
In round two of this year’s CONCACAF Champions League group stage, Sounders FC travels to Trinidad for the away leg of the series with Caledonia AIA. Seattle beat Caledonia, 3-1, in Seattle on August 2 in the opening round. Sounders FC sits atop group four with three points in one game. Caledonia and Honduras’ Marathon are tied with one point after a scoreless draw in Couva, Trinidad last Wednesday. As the only team to have played two games, Caledonia faces possible elimination with a loss.
Club: Caledonia AIA (TRI)
City: Malabar, Trinidad & Tobago
Stadium: Hasley Crawford Stadium
Manager: Jamaal Shabazz
Qualification method: 2012 CFU Club Champions Cup champion
Previous CONCACAF Champions League appearances: None
Honors: Trinidad and Tobago Cup - 1 (2008)
After capturing the Caribbean club championship for the first time in the club's 32-year history, Caledonia AIA is making its first appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League. Caledonia AIA edged four-time champions W Connection 4-3 on penalty kicks after the teams played to a 1-1 draw June 21 at Manny Ramjohn Stadium. Making his first start for Caledonia AIA, goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel made a save in the fifth round of kicks to seal the title. Caledonia AIA captured three out of five domestic titles this year, winning the First Citizens Cup, FA Trophy and the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield. Returning for Caledonia are center backs Nuru Abdallah Muhammad and Radanfah Abu Bakr, Guyanese wing back Walter Moore and international teammate goalkeeper Ronson Williams as well as Trinidad U-23 goalkeeper Samuel. Up front, the squad is led by Trinidad and Tobago international Devorn Jorsling and U-23 teammates Jamal Gay and Trevin Caesar. The club is coached by Jamaal Shabazz, who is also guiding the Guyanese national team in the third round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.