Tuesday, March 10, 2009
TAMPA, FL – The CONCACAF Champions League schedule has been set for the two semifinal series featuring the USL First Division’s Puerto Rico Islanders and the Mexican trio of Atlante, Cruz Azul and Santos Laguna. Puerto Rico will play host to Cruz Azul March 17 in the opening match of the four games. All four games will be available on Fox Soccer Channel.
Puerto Rico, the 2008 USL First Division regular season champions and playoff runners-up, advanced to the semifinal round with victories in both legs of their quarterfinal series against Honduran league leaders Marathon, downing the winners of the winners of Group A in the Champions League. Puerto Rico won at home, rallying from behind for a 2-1 victory, in the first leg and edged Marathon on the road with a strike seconds into stoppage time for a 3-1 aggregate score. Cruz Azul finished second to Marathon in Group A, falling 2-0 on the road and drawing 1-1 at home in their head-to-head encounters.
The Tuesday, March 17 match in Puerto Rico will be held at the Islanders home ground, Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon. The return leg will be held at Estadio Azul in Mexico City three weeks later on Tuesday, April 7.
Cruz Azul is the only remaining Mexican club that has not faced USL opposition as the two other, Atlante and Santos Laguna, advanced from the groups featuring the two USL sides.
Atlante played to a scoreless draw in Montreal and registered a victory against the already-quarterfinal bound Impact in the group finale, 2-1. It was Montreal’s first defeat of the tournament. Santos Laguna fell 3-1 in Puerto Rico in group play, but downed the Islanders 3-0 in a busy week that saw the club coming off a Friday-Sunday USL-1 Semifinal series the weekend before and heading to the championship in Vancouver the following weekend.
Santos then advanced from the Quarterfinals against Montreal in stunning fashion after falling 2-0 on the road in the first leg. Despite trailing 2-1 (4-1 on aggregate) in the second game and losing the away goal tiebreaker, the Mexican side scored four unanswered in the second half to advance 5-4.
Santos Laguna hosts Atlante in the first leg Wednesday, March 18 at Estadio Corona in Torreon with the return leg at Estadio Andres Quintana Roo in Cancun Wednesday, April 8.