CD SUCHITEPÉQUEZ vs FC DALLAS
ESTADIO DOROTEO GUAMUCH FLORES, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Oct. 20, 2016 (CONCACAF Champions League)
8 pm ET (facebook.com)
One road point, and FC Dallas are on to the knockout stage of the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League for the first time.
Dallas and Guatemalan side CD Suchitepequez are deadlocked on 5 points each going into Thursday night's Group H finale in Guatemala City. Both have a +1 goal differential.
Victory puts the winner on to the quarterfinals. A draw goes to FC Dallas, under the tiebreaker system. A scoreless draw would give them the nod under total goals scored (3-2), while a 1-1 or greater deadlock would allow them to advance under the head-to-head away-goals tiebreaker.
Dallas already have secured a first-round bye in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup playoffs, but they're also chasing a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup-Supporters' Shield double and leading the Shield standings by two points with one match to go. Will manager Oscar Pareja commit his best available players to Thursday's match, leaving only two nights' rest between a Central American trip and Sunday's Decision Day action?
How they got here
Neither team could have clinched a quarterfinal spot when these two sides met on Sept. 28 at Toyota Stadium. As it turned out, neither team took control of the group, either. Instead, they played to a scoreless draw, splitting the points -- not what Dallas wanted, but it also kept them from trailing on away goals.
Defender Aubrey David was given a red card late in that match, leaving him suspended for Thursday's group finale.
Can Fish find the net?
Carlos Ruiz marked his return to MLS in that late-September draw -- and very nearly delivered all three points for the home side, only to see his shot hit the crossbar just before the hour mark with 'keeper Manuel Sosa out of position. Pareja brought the 37-year-old into the side in mid-September to deliver big goals -- and any goal in this match would be huge.
It's not as though he'll be in unfamiliar territory, either. Ruiz is a native of Guatemala City, a longtime international with his home country and a veteran of the Liga Nacional with Municipal from 1995-2002. And guess where he played his home matches?
That's right: Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores, which is Municipal's home ground but also serves as the venue for Thursday's match.
Trying to make history
Both sides are trying to reach the knockout round for the first time -- Dallas in their second CCL outing and first since the 2011-12 tournament, and Suchitepequez for the first time under the current format.
The club took fourth place in 1993 in the old CONCACAF Winner's Cup, made the group stage two years back -- and then did not take part in continental competition again until this year.