The Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 has already seen a fair share of drama. Cavaly, a team from Haiti, earned its right to take part in the competition after winning the 2021 Concacaf Caribbean Cup Championship. However, Concacaf announced on Wednesday, Feb. 16, a day after Cavaly was supposed to play its first leg against the New England Revolution, the withdrawal of the Haitian club from the competition due to failing to get U.S. visas. As a result, the Revs progressed to the 2022 SCCL quarterfinals.
Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 first leg breakdown
Fourteen clubs will continue their fights to join New England in the quarterfinals. They all played their first leg games last week, and the following is what stood out from those games.
Santos de Guapiles 0-2 New York City
MLS Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos brought the same heat he had during the 2021 MLS season to Costa Rica last week. The Argentinian striker scored New York City FC’s two goals against Santos de Guapiles, leading his team to a successful away trip to kick off the competition.
Santos Laguna 1-0 CF Montreal
CF Montreal goalkeeper Sebastian Breza made eight saves against Santos Laguna to keep the Canadian side alive for the return leg. The 23-year-old had six saves alone in the first half, but a well-crafted play from Santos late in the game ended up beating him. Nonetheless, the young keeper kept the matchup alive and will look to be a key player again in Montreal’s home game on Wednesday.
Guastatoya 0-2 Leon
Leon veteran midfielders Elias Hernandez and Luis Montes, whose ages add up to 68 years, were key in the away 2-0 win over Guastatoya. Not only did Hernandez and Montes dominate the midfield for Leon, but the two combined for the second goal of the game. The two Mexicans showed they have what it takes to lead their side deep in the tournament.
Forge FC 0-1 Cruz Azul
Venezuelan midfielder Romulo Otero gave Cruz Azul its lone goal against Canadian side Forge. Otero, a free-kick specialist by trait, scored a free-kick from about 30 yards out to give Cruz Azul a one-goal cushion ahead of the return leg in Mexico.
Deportivo Saprissa 2-2 Pumas UNAM
A young Christian Bolaños started and scored a goal in the 2005 Concacaf Champions League final against Pumas UNAM to help Deportivo Saprissa win its third Concacaf crown. Fast-forward 17 years and Bolaños showed that he still has it in him. The 37-year-old forward played like his 20-year-old self against Pumas on Wednesday, Feb. 16, scoring a brace to help Saprissa to a 2-2 home draw in the first leg. He almost scored a game-winning scorpion kick, but the crossbar denied him of ultimate glory.
Comunicaciones 1-0 Colorado Rapids
Cuban center-back Karel Espino scored the most impressive goal in the 2022 SCCL play so far. The game between Guatemalan side Comunicaciones and the USA’s Colorado Rapids looked like it would end in a goalless draw. However, Espino had other ideas. In the 89th minute of the match, the defender attempted a one-time finish from 30 yards out that ended in the back of the net after a slight deflection from a teammate. Comunicaciones will now travel to Colorado with hopes to complete the upset.
Seattle Sounders 0-0 Motagua
Motagua squeezed out a goalless draw against the Seattle Sounders in front of its home crowd in Honduras. Now, they will face the Sounders at Lumen Field on Thursday.