Deportivo Arabe Unido return to familiar territory of Concacaf play
Deportivo Arabe Unido became the first Panamanian side to win on Mexican soil with a 3-2 victory over Monterrey (picture) in the group stage. (Photo: Mexsport)

COLON, Panama - Preparing for a CONCACAF tournament is almost an annual occurrence at Arabe Unido.

For the second consecutive year, the Panamanian side will play in the Scotiabank CONCACAF League after reaching the semifinals in the first installment of the tournament in 2017 (2W-1D-2L, 7GF, 3GC) before falling to Santos de Guapiles of Costa Rica 1-0 on aggregate.

The Expreso Azul qualified for the SCL on the strength of their runner-up finish in Panama's 2017 Apertura in which they ended with a record of 9-9-3, 23GF, 17GC.

Arabe Unido's rich CONCACAF history stretches much further back though, beginning with two appearances in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup (1996, 2003).

Yet it was in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League that the Canaleros got the attention of everyone across the region.

Five times Arabe Unido qualified for the SCCL (2009/10, 2010/11, 2013/14, 2015/16, 2016/17) and in three of those instances they advanced past the group stage.

In 2009/10 Arabe Unido finished second ahead of MLS side Houston Dynamo and El Salvador's Isidro Metapan in the group stage to qualify for the quarterfinals where they fell 4-0 to Mexican side Cruz Azul.

Four years later in 2013/14, the Panamanians once again edged out Houston to win their group and advance to the quarterfinals only to succumb 2-0 to Costa Rica's Alajuelense.

But it was Arabe Unido's 2016/17 SCCL campaign that will evoke great memories for fans, as they became the first Panamanian side to win on Mexican soil with a 3-2 victory over Monterrey in the group stage. That was then followed by a 2-1 win over Rayados in Panama, leading to a quarterfinal berth that ended with a 5-2 defeat to FC Dallas.

SCL opponents can also expect Arabe Unido to bring their usual firepower into the tournament, with leading scorers Carlos Small (9 goals) and Joseph Cox (8 goals) paving the way.

Arabe Unido once again find themselves in the familiar surroundings of CONCACAF play, and if history is any indicator, they'll be sticking around for a while.