CONCACAF Champions League: Club America look to re-assert continental dominance | Group 8 Preview

This is the Group 4 preview as the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League gets underway on Aug. 5-7. For comprehensive CONCACAF Champions League coverage, bookmark this page.


Club America (MEX) | HOW QUALIFIED: 2013 Liga MX Apertura runners-up | PREVIOUS BEST: Group Stage (Most Recent: 2013-14); 5x CONCACAF Champions' Cup Winners (Most Recent: 2006)
Comunicaciones (GUA) | HOW QUALIFIED: 2013 Apertura winners, 2014 Clausura winners | PREVIOUS BEST: Group Stage (Most recent: 2013-14); 1978 CONCACAF Champions Cup winners
Puerto Rico Bayamón FC (PUR) | HOW QUALIFIED: 2014 CFU Club Championship Group 2 winners | PREVIOUS BEST: First appearance in current format


DAVID AND GOLIATH

Club América are the unquestioned powerhouse, not only in this group, but as one of the most decorated teams in CONCACAF who play in one of the most intimidating and recognizable venues in CONCACAF. On paper, they should breeze through the group, with the minnows from Puerto Rico, slated to begin play in the US fourth division (NPSL) in 2015, expected to offer little resistance.

Comunicaciones will provide somewhat trickier opposition, and América need only to look back at their dismal 2013-14 CCL campaign to know this group shouldn't be taken lightly. The Águilas lost both home and away games to Costa Rica's Alajuelense, leaving them without even a chance to prevent rivals Cruz Azul from surpassing them in the all-time standings with their sixth North American title.

SCHEDULE

Date/Time (ET) Home Away Venue
August 7 | 10 PM Comunicaciones Puerto Rico Bayamón Estadio Cementos Progreso
August 19 | 8 PM Club América Puerto Rico Bayamón Estadio Azteca
August 26 | 10 PM Comunicaciones Club América Estadio Cementos Progreso
September 17 | 8 PM Puerto Rico Bayamón Club América Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel
September 25 | 8 PM Puerto Rico Bayamón Comunicaciones Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel
October 21 | 8 PM Club América Comunicaciones Estadio Azteca

STAR POWER

Editor's note: Since the time of this writing, Raul Jimenez has transferred away from Club America.

Raúl Jiménez, Club América: Jiménez is a Mexico star on the up-and-up and has already gone a long way toward writing himself into Club América's history books – no mean feat at such a storied club. He's a target man with a nose for clutch goals, exactly the kind of force that can help América get back to their dominant position in CONCACAF.

Oribe Peralta, Club América: Peralta has big shoes to fill with the departure of Jiménez, but his track record indicates he is more than capable. He was the co-top scorer in the 2011-12 CCL with seven goals in eight games, and boasts heps of experience in continental competition in his eight seasons with Santos Laguna prior to his arrival at América this summer.

Rolando Blackburn, Comunicaciones: The 24-year-old Panamanian forward was a pretty big get for Comunicaciones in this most recent transfer window. He was a title winner in Panama with Chorrillo before spending a relatively successful year-and-a-half playing in Slovakia. That in turn earned him a spot on Panama's 2013 Gold Cup runner-up squad, and the 24-year-old will be looking to make another big step in the CCL.

X-FACTOR

América's struggles against Central American opposition have been well-documented above, but there's reason to think this year might be different from last. Head coach Antonio Mohamed is well-versed in the continental game and will be looking to make a mark after a mixed first half-season in charge, and everyone at the club knows that a second consecutive group stage elimination will not sit well with fans. 

MLS/US CONNECTIONS

Twenty-one-year-old American defender Ventura Alvarado is a member of Club América's first-team squad for the Liga MX Apertura 2014 and CCL after spending the 2013-14 season on loan at Necaxa. He has yet to make an appearance in three games this season … Puerto Rico Bayamón FC (aka Bayamón FC, Puerto Rico FC) are slated to begin play in the US fourth-division National Premier Soccer League in 2015 …Current FC Dallas defender Moises Hernandez spent a half-season on loan at Comunicaciones … A number of former MLS players, including forward Jeff Cunningham (second all-time in MLS goals scored) have also played for Comunicaciones