Jose Van Rankin (pictured) scored one of the best goals of 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League week one, group stage play in Pumas' win over host DirecTV W Connection. (Photo: Caribbean Action Images)
MIAMI -- The ninth edition of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League kicked off last week and there was no shortage off talking points. CONCACAF.com takes a look back at some of Week 1’s best moments.
Portland Timbers 2, CD Dragon 1 (Group B): El Salvador’s 2016 Apertura champion nearly got a historic road point in its SCCL debut. But just moments after the woodwork denied Timbers forward Fanendo Adi for a second time in the match, Diego Valeri bundled in the rebound to give the 2015 MLS champion all three points.
Pumas 4, DirecTV W Connection 2 (Group E): The Liga MX visitor ultimately won by multiple goals, but this contest was open and exciting throughout. Hughton Hector’s free kick for W Connection and Jose Van Rankin’s long-range blast for Pumas will rival any goals scored during the remainder of the tournament.
Mateus Goncalves, Pachuca (v Olimpia): With the Tuzos opening Group B at home, Goncalves provided all the necessary offense for a 1-0 victory in fifth minute. After a slaloming run from near the midfield stripe, he sliced a 23-yard finish beyond Donis Escober’s dive and inside the right post.
Hughton Hector, DirecTV W Connection (v Pumas): After Luis Quintana opened the scoring for Pumas, Hector leveled two minutes before halftime with a 25-yard, right-footed free kick that looped over the wall and swerved inside the left post. Hector’s second career goal in the competition, though, couldn’t prevent the Savonetta Boys from dropping their third straight SCCL opener.
Jose Van Rankin, Pumas (v DirecTV W Connection): After playing to a 1-1 stalemate over the opening 45 minutes, Van Rankin gave Pumas the lead for good in the 57th minute. The 23-year-old right back intercepted a pass, pushed forward and unleashed a ferocious 25-yard strike that settled inside the left post.
Julani Archibald, DirecTV W Connection (v Pumas): With his side trailing by a goal, Archibald kept hope alive in the 86th minute, when he peered around his defensive wall and dove left to deny Kevin Escamilla’s thunderous free kick. Ultimately, Pumas would add a final strike in stoppage time of its 4-2 victory.
Ronald Elusma, Don Bosco (v Monterrey): Although Monterrey would ultimately triumph 3-0 in this Group C opener, it might have been worse for debutant Don Bosco without Elusma’s efforts. His best moment came in the 38th minute, when he dove spectacularly to his left to prevent Yimmi Chara from scoring for a second time in the evening.
Ryan Meara, New York Red Bulls (v Antigua GFC): The Panzas Verdes failed to score in their SCCL debut, but it might’ve been a different story if not for Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara. In the sixth minute, Meara leaped to push Roberto Pena’s 30-yard free kick over the crossbar just as it appeared to be sailing toward the top right corner
Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers (v Dragon): The Argentinean maestro proved the difference in the Timbers’ 2-1 victory over Dragon to open Group B, setting up Jack McInerney’s opening goal before scoring a dramatic 90th-minute winner himself.
Aldo de Nigris, Monterrey (v Don Bosco): With the SCCL veteran playing an influential role offensively, Monterrey had no trouble in its first match in the competition in more than three years. De Nigris scored his 15th career tournament goal and helped create the other two in a 3-0 victory over debutants Don Bosco.
Luis Quintana, Pumas (v DirecTV W Connection): The center back won the first-ever SCCL player of the week award, scoring once and owning a 95% passing completion rate. He thwarted W Connection forays on at least 12 occasions.
ONE LAST THING
Of the seven teams making their first-ever SCCL appearances in the 2016/17 tournament, four made their debut in Week 1 of the group phase. Of those, Panama’s Plaza Amador was the only one to earn a point, playing to a 1-1 home draw against Costa Rica’s Herediano in Group G.