W Connection slumps to worst ever Concacaf Champions League defeat; Pumas finalises CCL quarterfinal match-ups

W Connection starting line-up against Pumas UNAM at the Estadio Olimpico Universitario in Mexico on Oct. 20, 2016.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Pumas UNAM (3W-0D-1L, 9 points) qualified for the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals for the fourth time in as many tries, recording an 8-1 Group A victory over DirecTV W Connection (0-1-3. 1) on Thursday night at the Estadio Olimpico Universitario in Mexico.

Eduardo Herrera, Jesus Gallardo and Fidel Martinez notched two goals apiece, while Saul Berjon and Alfonso Nieto added one each in a winning effort.

Briel Thomas tallied for the Trinidadians, which had never conceded more than four goals in 23 previous SCCL outings.

Nearly the entire first half was played in the W Connection end as the host stormed to a 3-0 halftime advantage.

Berjon started things off by heading in a Pablo Barrera right-wing cross past goalkeeper Julani Archibald in the 17th minute.

Herrera then took centre stage by striking twice within a 10-minute span. His diving header off Gallardo's left-wing cross doubled the lead in the 30th minute. In what probably was the most impressive goal of the night, Barrera back-heeled a pass to Herrera, who turned and fired from the penalty spot for a three-goal lead in the 40th minute.

It was more of the same in the second half. Gallardo tallied his first goal in the 55th minute, converting Martinez's feed into the lower right corner before Thomas pulled one back for W Connection in the 60th minute off Andre Toussaint's back pass past goalkeeper Alfredo Saldivar.

Gallardo put in a rebound off the left post for a 5-1 advantage in the 71st minute. Second-half substitute Alfonso Nieto made it 6-1, converting a curling effort from the upper right corner of the penalty area into the far post before Martinez closed out the scoring with goals in the 85th and 89th minutes.

Despite allowing eight goals, Archibald was outstanding. He made 10 saves, including denying Herrera's bid for a hat-trick on a penalty kick in the 64th minute.

Pumas became the eighth and final team to reach quarterfinals, joining fellow Mexican clubs Pachuca and Tigres, the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas (both United States), Vancouver Whitecaps (Canada), Saprissa (Costa Rica) and Arabe Unido (Panama).

Match-ups and date ranges for the quarterfinals of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League 2016/17 determined.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC secured the top seed for the knockout rounds, assuring home field advantage for the second leg of each knockout round as long as the club remains in the tournament. The Canadian side will face fellow MLS club New York Red Bulls, seeded eighth, in one of four home-and-away quarterfinals which kick off in February.

Also qualified for the quarterfinal round, in order of seed, are Panama’s Arabe Unido, the Mexican threesome of CF Pachuca, Pumas UNAM and Tigres UANL, three-time CONCACAF Champion Deportivo Saprissa from Costa Rica, and FC Dallas, a third representative from Major League Soccer in next year’s quarterfinals.

Following the completion of group play, the eight group-topping teams were re-seeded 1-8, based on the number of points they achieved in the group stage, and using goal difference as the tie-breaker among teams tied with the same amount of points. In the case of seventh-place FC Dallas and eight-place New York Red Bulls, which both finished on 8 points with a plus-4 goal differential, goals scored in group play became the tie-breaker.

That process yielded four pairings: 1-8, 2-7, 3-6 and 4-5, now set to face off in the quarterfinals next year.

Rankings

1. Vancouver Whitecaps FC -- 12 pts. / +8 GD
2. Arabe Unido -- 12 pts. / +7 GD
3. CF Pachuca -- 10 pts. / +15 GD
4. UNAM Pumas -- 9 pts. / + 10 GD
5. Tigres UANL -- 9 pts. / +6 GD
6. CD Saprissa -- 8 pts. / +8 GD
7. FC Dallas -- 8 pts. / + 4 GD
8. New York Red Bulls -- 8 pts. / +4 GD
The quarterfinals of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League will take place late February through early March of next year, with the first legs to be played between the 21st and 23rd of February, and the second legs between the 28th of February and the 2nd of March. Exact dates and times for each quarterfinal match will be announced by CONCACAF in the near future.

CONCACAF Champions League 2016/17 Quarterfinals – First Leg (February 21-23)

(8) New York Red Bulls vs. (1) Vancouver Whitecaps FC
(7) FC Dallas vs. (2) Arabe Unido
(6) Deportivo Saprissa vs. (3) CF Pachuca
(5) Tigres UANL vs. (4) Pumas UNAM

CONCACAF Champions League 2016/17 Quarterfinals – Second Leg (February 28 – March 2)

(1) Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. (8) New York Red Bulls
(2) Arabe Unido vs. (7) FC Dallas
(3) CF Pachuca vs. (6) Deportivo Saprissa
(4) Pumas UNAM vs. (5) Tigres UANL

The provisional range of dates for the first leg of each of the semifinals, to be disputed among the four semifinal winners, is March 14-16, 2017. The return legs will be played from April 4-6.

The winner of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC – New York Red Bulls quarterfinal will face the winner of the Pumas UNAM – Tigres UANL quarterfinal in the semifinals. The victorious club in the matchup between Arabe Unido and FC Dallas will face off against the winner of the CF Pachuca – Deportivo Saprissa pairing in the other semifinal.

The home-and-away Finals series between the two semifinal winners will be disputed during the last two weeks of April of 2017.

The Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League is the region’s most prestigious club tournament, qualifying its champion directly to the FIFA Club World Cup. The winner of this edition of the competition will participate in the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

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