2022 CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal Preview | OneFootball

2022 CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal Preview

Logo: Tom Sweezy - MLS Aces

Tom Sweezy - MLS Aces

The 2022 CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 is over - 4 clubs from Major League Soccer still remain, along with 3 from Liga MX and 1 from the Guatemala’s Liga Nacional. It was a fun first round with a good amount of drama, although many of the results seem lopsided. With the quarterfinals set, here is my take on the upcoming CCL Quarterfinal matchups.

NYCFC vs Comunicaciones

NYCFC: Defeated Santos FC 6-0 on aggregate

Comunicaciones: Defeated Colorado Rapids 1(4)-1(3) on aggregate

The Cityzens had the most dominant Round of 16 aggregate, with a 6-0 smack down over Santos. NYCFC enter the quarterfinals with arguably the easiest opposition in Guatemalan club Comunicaciones. THough NYCFC has been dominant in CCL, they lost their opening MLS matchup to the Galaxy and had a goalless draw against the Whitecaps. If Talles Magno and Taty Castellanos can hold their form from the last round of CCL, than it should be another easy matchup for NYCFC, seeing them on to the semifinals. Can Comunicaciones get the upset? Los Cremas are in pretty decent form, with 6 wins, 3 draws, and 3 losses in their last 12 games across all competitions. Comunicaciones have scored 23 goals in the Guatemalan Clausura and even scored against a tough Rapid’s defense during the Round of 16 of CCL. If their goalkeeper Kevin Mosocoso can stand on his head like he did in the second leg against the Rapids, than they may be able to grab a win.

NYCFC’s Impact Player

Taty Castellanos

I can really just copy and paste this from my last CCL preview - NYCFC’s impact player is Taty Castellanos. When Taty is active and involved, he is almost bound to score in a game for NYCFC. If Taty is scoring this team is going to move on.

Comunicaciones’

Impact Player

Oscar Santis

I know I picked Santis for the Round of 16 matchup vs the Rapids, but how could I predict he’d come down with COVID? Santis is back, fully fit and has recorded a goal and an assist over his last five games. This impactful youngster could be the key to continu their magical run.

My prediction: NYCFC move on to the CCL semifinals. I’m sorry Comunicaciones - though your win over the Rapids was historic, you didn’t show enough quality to be a legitimate threat against the reigning MLS Cup champions.

Seattle Sounders vs Club Leon

Seattle Sounders: Defeated Motagua 5-0 on aggregate

Club Leon: Defeated Guastaotoya 3-0 on aggregate

Outside of NYCFC, the Sounders had the most dominant win of all MLS clubs in the CCL Round of 16. However, the Sounders will face tougher opposition in the quarterfinals than NYCFC, as they face Liga MX side Club Leon. Leon wasn’t as dominant as expected in their Round of 16 matchup, but they managed to win without letting up a single goal. Seattle needs to control the midfield against Leon and may need some help from Nicolas Lodiero and Cristian Roldan to do so. Both Lodiero and Roldan were excellent vs Motagua, with a combined 2 goals and 3 assists. However, it will be crucial that they limit the amount of goals Leon scores. Leon only scored three times against Gustatoya, so if the Sounders can hold them to a total aggregate of 2 goals or less, then there is a good chance the Sounders advance. Can the likes of Xavier Arreaga, Nouhou Tolo, and Yeimar Gomez Andrade hold back Elias Hernandez and Victor Davila? I am interested to see whether the Club Leon backline can hold off the deep attack of this Sounders side, who can score in bunches.

Seattle’s

Impact Player

Xavier Arreaga

With Club Leon scoring a ton of goals across all competitions, the Sounders defense needs to be strong. That will require excellent play from the center of the defense - specifically, center-back Xaiver Arrega. If Arreaga can play lights out, like he has so far in MLS play, the Sounders can advance into the semi-finals.

Leon’s

Impact Player

Elias Hernandez

Outside of Victor Davila, Elias Hernandez is the only other consistent player on the roster over Leon’s last five games. Hernandez led Leon past Guastatoya and could be the x factor that leads them over a tough MLS side.

My prediction: This is a very close one but I think that the Sounders advance. Club Leon’s defense has not been the strongest recently, and with players like Raul Ruidiaz, Albert Rusnak, Jordan Morris, Nico Lodiero, Cristian Roldan, and Joao Paulo on the attack, the Sounders should be able to outlast Leon.

New England Revolution vs Pumas UNAM

Pumas UNAM: Defeated Saprissa 6-3 on aggregate

Welcome to CCL action, New England! After a disqualification in the last round, the Revolution are opening up their CCL play with a tough Liga MX side in Pumas UNAM. The biggest impact for the Revs could come between the sticks, as USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner is out with an injury. In addition, backup Brad Knighton is also out, leaving third choice keeper Earl Edwards Jr. as the Revs starting goalkeeper for this matchup. Turner is a game winner in net, so without him, the New England defense takes a huge hit. However, with the likes of 2021 MLS MVP Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou, Sebastian Lletget, Adam Buksa and Brandon Bye, to name a few, the Revs might be the deepest team in MLS. Their depth could probe to be the difference against Pumas. On the Pumas side, they’ve been in inconsistent form with mixed results leading into the CCL quaterfinals. Though Pumas scored 6 goals against Saprissa, they also allowed plenty of clear chances on net, allowing 3 goals. Also, in the Liga MX Clausura, Pumas has scored 13 goals, but has also allowed 8. This Pumas team can score big, especially with their Round of 16 heroes like Juan Dinenno, Alan Mozo, Arturo Ortiz, and others. But can they stop this Revs team from an onslaught of goals?

New England’s

Impact Player

Bruce Arena

Plot twist - I’m going with a head coach. Bruce Arena has a ton of experience coaching in international competitions. With the mess regarding their Round of 16 matches, Arena will need to have his stars ready to compete against some stiff Liga MX competition. If Arena can create some energy within this team and make the right roster decisions, then the Revs could advance.

With 3 goals scored in CCL already and 4 goals scored in his last 5 games, Juan Dinenno is going to be the offensive leader for Pumas. If Dinneno can make it past the central defense of Farrell, Kessler, and Polster, then Pumas advance.

My prediction:My concern is that the Revs are not ready for CCL play, especially against a Liga MX opponent. Pumas are in form and playing consistent soccer, which can easily push them past New England. I am going with the Revs to win based purely on talent and roster depth, but I am not overly confident.

CF Montreal vs Cruz Azul

CF Montreal: Defeated Santos Laguna 3-1 on aggregate

Cruz Azul: Defeated Forge FC 4-1 on aggregate

Once again, it looks like Montreal has the most difficult matchup heading into the next CCL round. Last round, they upset Liga MX side Santos Laguna, but can they do it again? Montreal rely heavily upon the creativity of Djordje Mihailovic to get them past Cruz Azul. Mihailovic was their star against Santos Laguna and was able to score a goal and set up another. If he can help set up the likes of Romell Quioto, Joaquin Torres, and Victor Wanyama, than Montreal might have a shot at another upset. However, over their last 5 games, Cruz Azul has scored a ton - Juan Escobar, Ignacio Rivero, and Santiago Gimenez all scored over two goals each. Combined with their other goal scorers, this Cruz Azul team is deadly right now and may be the best team left in CCL.

Montreal’s

Impact Player

Victor Wanyama

I’m not worried about Djordje Mihailovic’s ability to produce in big games like this. But I am worried about this club’s defense. My eyes are looking at their captain and central midfielder Victor Wanyama. If Wanyama can stay back a bit and help bolster this defense, than maybe Montreal has a shot at winning.

Cruz Azul’s

Impact Player

Juan Escobar

Juan Escobar is another attacker in great form right now. Escobar has recorded three goals and an assist in the club’s last 5 games. I think he can maintain that form and test the young back line of Montreal.

My prediction: Unfortunately, I think Montreal’s CCL run comes to an end. Cruz Azul has too much firepower for this Canadian side to compete with. Montreal may make things interesting with a few goals of their own, but I think this young team will get swarmed.

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