Aug 10, 2012; Harrison, NJ, USA; Houston Dynamo players huddle against the New York Red Bulls during the first half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE
The Dynamo's return to the CONCACAF Champions League begins tonight with their first group stage match against C.D. FAS. It's the Dynamo's third match ever in El Salvador (0-1-1) and their second match at the Estadio Cuscatlán ( a1-1 draw vs. Luis Angel Firpo in the 2008-09 CCL).
Just in case you aren't familiar the CCL, here's the basics. It's a 24-team tournament made up of clubs from North, Central America and the Caribbean. It began as the Champions Cup in 1962 and became the Champions League in 2008. Unlike previous years, this edition of the tournament has divided the 24 teams in to eight groups of three teams, in which each club will play the others twice, home and away. Only the group winner will advance to the quarterinfals, which begin in March on next year.
This is the fifth time Houston has appeared in the Champions Cup/League. They reached the semifinals of the Champions Cup in 2007 and 2008. After the Champions League change, the Dynamo advanced to the quarterfinals of the 08-09 tournament, but failed to advance from the group stages the next season. They did not qualify for last season's tournament. Houston earned their birth in the Champions League thanks to their appearance in last season's MLS Cup Final.
Tonight's opponent is C.D. FAS, an El Salvadorian club founded in 1947. They've won the Primera Division 17 times in their club's history. They are led by Argentine striker Alejandro Bentos who has 92 goals in just under 300 appearances for the team. Their captain Marvin Gonzalez is a regular for the El Salvador national team with 83 caps, second most in the country's history.
FAS has already played a group stage match against Olimpia, the other club in the group, back at the beginning of the month. Olimpia hammered FAS 3-0 so tonight's match takes on increased importance for the Tigers if they want to have any shot of getting out of the group.
The Dynamo will be looking to get off their CCL campaign to a strong start, but it won't be easy. A long bit of travel combined with a hostile environment will provide a big challenge to the team. A loss wouldn't be that unlikely, but if Houston can leave El Salvador tonight with a win or draw, it'll be a huge step forward towards qualification in the knockout rounds.
The only injury of note is Ricardo Clark who picked up an ankle injury over the weekend. He's listed as questionable for tonight's match.
What do you think about tonight's match Dynamo fans and what result what you be happy with?