This is the Group A preview as the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League gets underway on Aug. 4-6. For comprehensive CONCACAF Champions League coverage, bookmark this page.
Santos Laguna | HOW QUALIFIED: 2015 Clausura champions | PREVIOUS BEST: Runner-up (Most Recent: 2013)
Saprissa | HOW QUALIFIED: 2014 Invierno champion | PREVIOUS BEST: Semifinals (Most Recent: 2011)
W Connection | HOW QUALIFIED: 2015 CFU Club Champion runners-up | PREVIOUS BEST: Group stage (Most recent: 2014)
DAVID AND GOLIATH
Any Liga MX club participating in this tournament should be considered a Goliath, and that’s certainly what Santos Laguna are. Having played in the title game not too long ago, falling to Monterrey in 2013, the most recent Mexican champions are one of the teams to beat. And then you have minnow W Connection from Trinidad & Tobago, having been founded just 16 years ago. They do have a history of upsets in them, however, with wins over the New York Red Bulls, Comunicaciones and Real España in the group stage of the 2009-10 edition.
|August 4 | 10 PM||Santos Laguna||W Connection||Estadio Corona|
|August 20 | 10 PM||Saprissa||W Connection||Estadio Ricardo Saprissa|
|August 25 | 10 PM||Saprissa||Santos Laguna||Estadio Ricardo Saprissa|
|September 16 | 8 PM||W Connection||Santos Laguna||Hasely Crawford Stadium|
|September 22 | 8 PM||W Connection||Santos Laguna||Hasely Crawford Stadium|
|October 22 | 8 PM||Santos Laguna||Saprissa||Estadio Corona|
Javier Orozco, Santos Laguna: Fresh off Mexico’s championship Gold Cup run, Orozco is looking for more continental glory. And the 27-year-old forward is no stranger to CCL success as the tournament’s all-time leading goal scorer (24, five more than his closest competitor), all coming with his previous team Cruz Azul.
Ariel Rodriguez, Saprissa: He scored the third most goals in the 2014-15 edition of the tournament with five, including the clincher in their group-stage finale against Sporting Kansas City, a 2-0 win to win the group.
If it comes down to Santos and Saprissa, as it most likely will, then the group finale is sure to be a barn burner. The stage will be Santos’ sparkling new Estadio Corona, a 30,000-seat venue constructed in 2009 in Torreon, giving the rebuilding Mexican side a nice upper hand.
Saprissa topped Sporting Kansas City in Group 2 of the 2014-15 tournament, falling 3-1 in Kansas City in the first leg before taking a 2-0 victory in the home leg to advance on away goals… Former Saprissa defender Michael Umaña spent two stints in MLS, with the LA Galaxy (2005), and Chivas USA (2010-11)… Real Salt Lake beat Saprissa in the CCL semifinal in 2010-11… Current D.C. United strikers Jairo Arrieta and Alvaro Saborio formerly played for Saprissa.