CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 Previews
The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football CONCACAF Champions League is an annual soccer competition for the top football clubs in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
The first leg of the Round of 16 of the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League starts on February 19 with many intriguing contests, including Deportivo Saprissa vs. Tigres UANL, Sporting KC vs. Toluca and Herediano vs. Atlanta United.
Check the betting odds at a well-reviewed sportsbook like 5dimes for all the Round of 16 Leg 1 games at.
This edition of the CONCACAF Champions League will be the second to feature a knockout style competition with a home-and-away format that demands the highest level of performance from the teams for over 180 minutes, which results in a quickly evolving tournament.
The Round of 16 games take place in February, followed by the quarterfinals in March, the semifinals in April and the finals in May.
This is the list of Round of 16 Leg 1 games:
- Deportivo Saprissa vs. Tigres UANL – Tuesday, February 19 at 8:00 PM ET
- Independiente vs. Toronto FC – Tuesday, February 19 at 8:00 PM ET
- Guastatoya vs. Houston Dynamo – Tuesday, February 19 at 10:00 PM ET
- Club Atlético Pantoja vs. NY Red Bulls – Wednesday, February 20 at 8:00 PM ET
- Club Deportivo Marathón vs. Santos Laguna – Wednesday, February 20 at 8:00 PM ET
- Alianza vs. Monterrey – Wednesday, February 20 at 10:00 PM ET
- Sporting KC vs. Toluca – Thursday, February 21 at 8:00 PM ET
- Herediano vs. Atlanta United – Thursday, February 21 at 10:00 PM ET
These three matchups caught my eye:
Deportivo Saprissa vs. Tigres UANL
Deportivo Saprissa will face Mexican giants Tigres UANL, the team that no one wanted to face at this stage. Tigres lost against Pumas in the quarterfinals of the Liga MX Torneo de Apertura 2018 but they have a very strong and experienced roster, led by French goalscorer André-Pierre Gignac.
Saprissa lost the Torneo de Apertura 2018 against Herediano, as their lack of depth on offense and poor coaching cost them in the end. After a shaky start in the Torneo de Clausura 2019, the popular Costa Rican team added Honduran striker Rubilio Castillo, who shined with Motagua and they brought John Jairo Ruiz back, just before firing their head coach Vladimir Quesada and replacing him with former idol Wálter Centeno, a move that can pay dividends soon.
Centeno won’t have much time to work with Saprissa ahead of these games against Tigres and with the first Leg being played in Costa Rica, they need to get a comfortable win in order to have a chance to upset Tigres.
Sporting KC vs. Toluca
Sporting KC is coming off a record-breaking MLS campaign that saw them finish first in the Western Conference regular season standings. The team qualified for this tournament as the winners of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, when they earned a thrilling 2-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls in the Final at Children’s Mercy Park, claiming their fourth major championship since 2012.
Toluca was a finalist in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League and they qualified for the 2019 edition after losing in the 2018 Liga MX Torneo de Clausura Final against Santos Laguna.
Toluca recently placed seventh in the 2018 Liga MX Torneo de Apertura standings, before Club América eliminated them in the quarterfinals. Forward Alexis Vega will be a player to watch in this Leg, he scored a team-best six goals in the 2018 Liga MX Torneo de Apertura and midfielder Luis Enrique Quiñones was their main playmaker with five assists, third best in the tournament.
Herediano vs. Atlanta United
After winning the Torneo de Apertura 2018 Final against Saprissa on December 23, Herediano has struggled to start the Torneo de Clausura 2019, mostly because star goalkeeper Leonel Moreira was signed by Pachuca and their best midfielder Allan Cruz recently joined new MLS team FC Cincinnati.
Those departures, combined with an injury to up-and-coming midfielder Jimmy Marín hurt them tremendously but the team recently signed former 2014 World Cup star Yeltsin Tejeda and he can make a difference for them and contribute right away.
Atlanta United won the 2018 MLS Cup in just their second season in the league and their already stacked roster recently added defender Florentin Pogba and midfielder Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez but they have a new coach in Frank de Boer and with the MLS season starting until March 3, just after their Round of 16 games against Herediano, the Costa Rican team will have a significant edge when it comes to rhythm of play.