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Arabe Unido challenged by Barcenas, Cox departures
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Edgar Yoel Barcenas (right) in Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League action for Arabe Unido against visiting Monterrey on September 14, 2016, in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: Mexsport)

COLON, Panama – With the first leg of its 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series with FC Dallas set for February 23, Arabe Unido will need the time to retool its offense.

The Expreso Azul lost a significant amount of offensive production with the recent exits of midfielder Edgar Yoel Barcenas and forward Joseph Cox to Cafetaleros de Tapachula (Mexico) and Envigado (Colombia), respectively.

Barcenas, who helped Panama to a runner-up finish in the Copa Centroamericana that ended Sunday, scored two goals and registered a team-best three assists during the SCCL’s group stage. The 23-year-old netted what proved to be the game-winning goal in Arabe’s historic 3-2 victory at Monterrey on August 17, 2016.

Equally meaningful were Cox’s SCCL contributions. He struck for two goals – including the first in a 2-1 win over visiting Monterrey on September 14, 2016 – and added an assist.

A possible source for goals is Renan Addles. The forward signed an 18-month contract on January 21 after spending 2016 with Peru’s Juan Aurich. This will be Addles’ second stint with the Panamanian champion, also playing for it in 2015, notching nine goals in 36 games. He has two goals (one each with Arabe Unido and Chorrillo FC) in eight career SCCL games.

In December, Arabe signed forward Carlos Small from Sporting San Miguelito, but the 21-year-old has yet to score in the opening two 2017 Panamanian Clausura matches (2-1 home win v San Francisco, 0-1 away loss v Atletico Veraguense).

Figuring out a way to break down a FC Dallas defense that had the fourth-best defensive record in 2016 MLS play will be a puzzle that Arabe head coach Sergio Guzman must solve.

The question is if the newest pieces can deliver in a way similar to the missing ones.

 
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