GALAXY: CCL rematch with PR Islanders

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
8:53
PM PT
The Galaxy's first trip to the CONCACAF Champions League was over right as it started, thanks to a second-tier club from the Caribbean that wasn't supposed to provide a challenge.

Now L.A. gets another stab at the Puerto Rico Islanders, who on Thursday claimed the final spot in Group 5 of the Champions League with a victory over Antigua Barracuda in the third-place game at the Caribbean Football Union Club Championship.

The Islanders, making their fifth successive appearance in CONCACAF's club championship, will play home-and-homes later this summer and in early fall with the Galaxy and El Salvador's Isidro Metapan, with the top side advancing to next year's quarterfinals.

The clubs expected a match schedule last week, but CONCACAF has not yet provided one. Openers are to be played July 31-Aug. 2, and the group stage ends Oct. 23-25.

The Islanders, who play in the second-division North American Soccer League, ousted the Galaxy in the preliminary round of the 2010-11 Champions League, rolling to a 4-1 victory in the first leg at Home Depot Center and advancing after the Galaxy won, 2-1, in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

Bill Gaudette, the Galaxy's No. 3 goalkeeper, was in the nets for the Islanders, who also have beaten Toronto FC, Mexican clubs Cruz Azul, Santos Laguna and Toluca, and Costa Rican powerhouse Alajuelense in the competition. Coach Bruce Arena came down with dengue fever while in Puerto Rico.

The Islanders lost to Isidro Metapan, on the away-goals rule, in last season's prelimary round. The Salvadorans, who also have taken part in all four tournaments since CONCACAF switched to the league format in 2008, were the only club not from Mexico or Major League Soccer to reach the knockout stage. Metapan defeated Santos and Pumas UNAM at home during their run but was blown out in the away legs.

Puerto Rico, which is 6-3-2 and two points off the lead in the NASL, got goals from Josh Hansen and Jonathan Fana to beat Antigua, which plays in the American third-division USL Pro, at the CFU final four in San Fernando, Trinidad.

Caledonia AIA beat W Connection on penalties following a 1-1 draw in an all-Trinidadian final to advance to Group 4, with the Seattle Sounders and Honduran club Marathon. W Connection goes to Group 8 with Guatemalan champion Xelaju and Guadalajara. Both of Trinidad's representatives qualified for the Champions League with semifinal wins Tuesday.

Puerto Rico won the previous two Caribbean titles and lost to W Connection in the 2009 final. W Connection beat the Islanders on Tuesday, 4-1.

Here are the completed groups:

GROUP 1
Santos Laguna (Mexico)
Toronto FC (Canada)
Aguila (El Salvador)

GROUP 2
Herediano (Costa Rica)
Real Salt Lake (U.S.)
Tauro (Panama)

GROUP 3
Olimpia (Honduras)
Houston Dynamo (U.S.)
FAS (El Salvador)

GROUP 4
Seattle Sounders (U.S.)
Marathon (Honduras)
Caledonia AIA (Trinidad & Tobago)

GROUP 5
Galaxy (U.S.)
Isidro Metapan (El Salvador)
Puerto Rico Islanders (Puerto Rico)

GROUP 6
UANL Tigres (Mexico)
Alajuelense (Costa Rica)
Real Esteli (Nicaragua)

GROUP 7
Chorrillo (Panama)
Monterrey (Mexico)
Municipal (Guatemala)

GROUP 8
Xelaju (Guatemala)
Guadalajara (Mexico)
W Connection (Trinidad & Tobago)

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