Dragon (pictured) gathers for a team photo prior to its Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League match at Saprissa on August 18, 2016, in Tibas, San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN MIGUEL, El Salvador – Dragon appeared to be on the way to securing a valuable away point in its first-ever Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League game on August 3, when Diego Valeri struck in the 90th minute to give the Portland Timbers a 1-0 win.
The Salvadoran side followed up that setback with a 6-0 loss at Saprissa and then was eliminated from contention after a scoreless draw at home against the Costa Rican power.
A measure of sporting pride, however, can be gained Tuesday as Dragon – under new leadership from the bench -- closes its Group B campaign by hosting Portland at the Estadio Cuscutlan.
Nelson Ancheta was appointed head coach on September 22 as a replacement for Omar Sevilla. In his first game in charge, the 53-year-old guided 11th-place Dragon (1W-5D-5L, 8 points) to a 0-0 stalemate Saturday with seventh-place Aguila (3-5-2, 14).
“We have to improve our finishing, which is what cost us today and in previous matches,” Ancheta said of an offense that has produced one goal or fewer in six of its last seven domestic outings.
Ancheta drew attention to the opportunities spurned by forward Kenroy Howell, who scored in the loss to Portland last month for the Mitologicos’ only SCCL goal.
“Our number nine (Howell) is a good player, it’s a shame that he had chances and missed,” commented the 53-year-old. “He had two clear chances to be able to finish. We are trying with him. We are going to improve. The boys play well, but they err in finishing, so we are going to work on that.”
With a victory over the Timbers, Dragon can improve the record of Salvadoran clubs against U.S. opponents in SCCL play, which stands at 2-7-16.