DirecTV W Connection's Malik St. Prix (far right) scored one of the best goals of 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League group-stage play against visiting Honduras Progreso on August 25, 2016, in Couva, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: Caribbean Action Images)
MIAMI – As August nears its end, we’ve already reached the midpoint of group play in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. Before we turn to the stretch run, CONCACAF.com takes a look at some of the key talking points from Week Three.
DirecTV W Connection 1, Honduras Progreso 1: Although the result did neither side any favors in the Group A standings, fans at Ato Bolden Stadium enjoyed an enthralling encounter that included a brilliant strike from distance by the host’s Malik Shirvone St. Prix and seven saves by Honduras Progreso goalkeeper Woodrow West. West’s acrobatics helped Progreso emerge in a slightly better position than the Savonetta Boys, especially their remaining two games are at home. Both sides, though, trail first-place Pumas by five points.
Tigres 3, Plaza Amador 1: The final score suggested a comfortable victory for the Liga MX host, but in truth it overcame a substantial challenge from the Panamanian champion, which went ahead through Humberto Ward’s 22nd-minute strike. Tigres equalized on Jorge Jonathan Espericueta’s 44th-minute penalty. Fernando Fernandez and Julian Quinones added goals on a pair of goalkeeping miscues in the second half.
Malik Shirvone St. Prix, DirecTV W Connection (v Honduras Progreso): St. Prix helped the Trinidad & Tobago power earn just its second point in its last eight SCCL matches, when he took Dimitrie Apai’s clever back-heel and sent a looping, 20-yard finish over West and inside the left post. He became the 16th W Connection player to score in the competition.
Jonathan Urretaviscaya, Pachuca (v Police United): Urretaviscaya provided a moment of brilliance in the 86th minute of Pachuca’s 3-0 victory, curling home a 20-yard free kick off the inside of the left goalpost. The last goal of the match was the fourth overall in two SCCL games for the Group E leader, which has yet to concede.
Amilcar Henriquez, Arabe Unido (v Don Bosco): The Group D leader scored the club’s second-most goals in a SCCL game in its 5-2 triumph at Don Bosco. None were better than Henriquez’s second goal of the match, a 23rd-minute side-volley set up by Edgar Yoel Barcenas’ perfect cross from the right flank to the back post.
Woodrow West, Honduras Progreso (v DirecTV W Connection): West’s seven saves were a big reason Progreso earned its first-ever SCCL point. His best moment of a 1-1 away draw may have come in the 17th minute, when he kept a then-scoreless match tied by denying Apai’s breakaway attempt from point-blank range.
Henry Hernandez, Dragon (v Saprissa): After a difficult 6-0 loss at Saprissa a week earlier, Dragon responded with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against the Costa Rican power to secure its first SCCL point. Hernandez’s five saves helped that effort, with his best a low lunge to his left to with five minutes left in normal time to keep Rolando Blackburn’s header from crossing the line.
Keith Allen, Police United (v Pachuca): Allen’s incredible total of 12 saves wasn’t quite enough to help the Belizean visitor avoid defeat, but his leaping denial of Erick Gutierrez’s effort, one that looked bound for the top right corner, may live on in tournament highlight reels for some time to come.
Justo Lorente, Real Esteli (v FC Dallas): Michael Barrios looked all but certain to score his second goal of the competition in the 79th minute and give the MLS side the lead. Lorente, however, got across his goal in time to deny Barrios’ first-time volley of Tesho Akindele’s cross. That helped preserve a 1-1 draw for Real Esteli, its first point in three group matches.
TOP INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE
Edgar Yoel Barcenas, Arabe Unido: Barcenas continued to orchestrate an Arabe Unido attack attempting to earn its third SCCL quarterfinals appearance. After scoring the decider in the Panamanian side’s 3-2 Week Two win at Monterrey, he set up Henriquez’s second goal against Don Bosco, before later scoring himself in a 5-2 win. The Expreso Azul’s eight goals in two matches are the most scored by any club in the tournament.
TOP TEAM PERFORMANCE
Vancouver Whitecaps: Having just lost in league play to Sporting Kansas City the weekend prior, Vancouver emphatically turned the table against the same side in a 3-0 home win behind Cristian Techera’s brace. The Whitecaps led 2-0 by the 12th minute. With three goals in two matches, Techera is tied for the SCCL scoring lead with Monterrey’s Edwin Cardona.
ONE LAST THING
Twenty out of the 24 sides in the 2016/17 SCCL have played exactly two group matches, while two have already contested three and the remaining pair only competing once. Ironically, both sides that have played three matches -- Dragon (Group B) and Real Esteli (Group H) -- sit bottom of their respective groups. The sides that have played only one match -- Portland Timbers (Group B) and Suchitepequez (Group H) -- sit in front of them in second.