If a CONCACAF trophy is on the line, the stars must come out to shine.
Here are five players to watch as the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF League kicks off.
Ricardo Morris, MF, Portmore United
One can only wonder where Portmore United would be without Morris. The 25-year-old attacking midfielder played a massive role in Portmore United lifting the Jamaican Red Stripe Premier League trophy last spring with 11 goals during the season. Morris also contributed a goal in Portmore United’s run to a third-place finish in the 2018 Caribbean Club Championship to qualify for the 2018 SCL. Morris is more than a goalscorer though; his vision and deft touch make him one of the most dangerous playmakers in the region.
Jairo Arrieta, FW, Herediano
At this point, Arrieta can be classified as CONCACAF royalty, as the 34-year-old always answers the call every time he’s in action in CONCACAF. Arrieta is second on the all-time list of Costa Rican goal-scorers in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League with 11, just one behind Alvaro Saborio’s 12 goals. As part of a Herediano side that will fancy itself as one of the tournament favorites, Arrieta’s countless experience along with his clinical finishing makes him a player to fear for opposing defenses.
Gerson Mayen, MF, Santa Tecla
Mayen is a player who seems to get better with every season. The 29-year-old Los Angeles-born midfielder put on a clinic in Santa Tecla 2018 SCCL Round of 16 first leg 2-1 win against the Seattle Sounders with a pair of goals. The El Salvador international excels with the ball at his feet and hardly ever loses possession. His ability to draw a foul in advantageous areas is a skill matched by few in the region.
Erick Andino, FW, Motagua
Perhaps no player will be asked to carry a heavier load than Andino. With the departure of star strikers Rubilio Castillo and Carlos Discua this summer, much of the scoring impetus at Motagua will be placed on Andino’s shoulders. If past performances are any indication, Andino will relish being the focal point in attack. The 28-year-old has 45 goals in Honduras’ Liga Nacional dating back to 2014 and boasts ample experience in CONCACF competition with Motagua and Olimpia in the SCCL. He can thrive as the main man up top.
Edwin Aguilar, FW, Tauro
The Tauro forward was a thorn in the side of FC Dallas during the 2018 SCCL, using his lethal right-foot to score two goals as Tauro eliminated its MLS counterparts in the Round of 16. Aguilar possesses the unteachable trait of always being at the right place at the right time to score goals. Now, the 32-year-old Aguilar will bring his attacking swagger into the SCL and hopes to lead the Panamanians on a deep run in the tournament.