Poor New York...
At least DC United was able to advance out of the qualifying round. Luckily for them, they're in a manageable group with Toluca, Marathon (Honduras), and either San Francisco (Panama) or San Juan Jabloteh (T&T). San Fran is taking a 2-0 lead to Trinidad tonight.
In other series, Cruz Azul and Pachuca waxed their opponents to no one's surprise. The defending Costa Rican champs Liberia look to be in good shape as they take a 3-0 lead to Honduras against Real Espana tonight. Olimpia of Honduras is taking a narrow 2-1 lead to Panama to face Arabe Unido tonight.
I gave Toronto too much credit when I predicted they'd top SUPER BILL GAUDETTE and his Puerto Rico Islanders. While Colin Clarke doesn't have a bunch of stars to choose from, he has one of the deeper rosters in MLS or USL and it shows in this competition. They are a very organized team, hard to break down, and if you let them get ahead of you, you will suffer. Toronto honestly didn't even look that interested in their loss down in Bayamon, so maybe they're not too upset. Shame...
New York is just snake bitten. Get in the VooDoo priestess to change the club's luck, whatever it takes. If I wasn't a DC fan, I'd probably feel sorry for them.
Early thoughts on the group stage:
-Houston-Pachuca in group A? Yes, please. Must see TV.
-Group of Death? Group C with the Crew, Cruz Azul, Saprissa, and Puerto Rico.
-Tom Soehn really needs to learn how to manage his roster in these competitions. He won't get by with his mix and match approach because then he's always at less than full strength. Sometimes, he's going to have to put out a weak lineup and rest all of the key players in an MLS game, especially prior to tough games with Toluca and Marathon. MLS gives you an out with the playoffs, you don't have time to waste in CONCACAF.
Early predictions for the quarterfinalists: Houston, Pachuca, Toluca, DC United, Cruz Azul, Columbus, Pumas, Liberia.