CCL: Smith taking strong team to face Santos
Commerce City, Colo. - The Colorado Rapids travel to Torreon, Mexico on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's final CONCACAF Champions League Group B match versus Santos Laguna (6 pm MT). Head coach Gary Smith is taking 19 players in search of the win necessary to secure a place in the Quarterfinals.
"We have the opportunity through 90 minutes of football on Wednesday to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Champions League, which is something I think all the players would like to achieve," said Smith after Monday's training session. "It's been a long hard road. There's been some difficulties and some stresses involved, but it comes down to 90 minutes of football."
Leading the travel party are midfielder Jeff Larentowicz and defender Kosuke Kimura, who have started all 33 regular season game this year. Joining them, among others, are defenders Drew Moor and Marvell Wynne and a forward group which includes Omar Cummings, Sanna Nyassi, Caleb Folan, and Mac Kandji. Wells Thompson and Scott Palguta, the only two players to appear in all five Champions League games, are also on the list.
"We've got a very competitive team," said Smitht. "It might be slightly different to the usual set up, but it's one that can win a game of football and get us through to the next round."
Team captain Pablo Mastroeni, who suffered a concussion in last Friday's match against Real Salt Lake, and midfielder Jamie Smith, who is nursing a calf injury, won't make the trip. Cameroonian midfielder Joseph Nane's status is pending as he continues to sort through international travel matters to avoid interupting the stage he's in on his U.S. residency process.
Currently behind Santos (10 points) in second place of Group B with seven points, the Rapids would clinch a top two finish - which would put them through to the Quarterfinals - with a win at Estadio Corona. With a tie, or loss, Colorado would still clinch a quartefinal berth if Real Espana and Isidro Metapan tie in their last game, which will be played in El Salvador on Thursday.
COLORADO RAPIDS ROSTER TO MEXICO:
GOALKEEPERS: Steward Ceus, Ian Joyce.
DEFENDERS: Drew Moor, Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Scott Palguta, Eddie Ababio, Danny Earls, Miguel Comminges.
MIDFIELDERS: Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson, Davy Armstrong, Steven Emory, Ross LaBauex, *Joseph Nane
FORWARDS: Omar Cummings, Sanna Nyassi, Caleb Folan, Mac Kandji