GUATEMALA CITY — The Colorado Rapids will officially begin their 2022 season on Thursday, February 17, as the club visits Guatemala’s Comunicaciones FC in the Round of 16 of the 2022 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (SCCL). Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. MT at Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores in Guatemala City and the match will be broadcast live on FS2 and TUDN.
“I think it’s [a] huge [opportunity] and the club thinks it’s huge,” said Rapids head coach Robin Fraser ahead of the match. “Everyone in sports wants to play against the best. In our region, the Champions League is a unique opportunity to play against teams from other countries in a meaningful competition. Having been through it a number of times, I know how exciting it is. We feel like we are pushing the club forward in the last couple of years and this is a step for us that we’re really excited about.”
Thursday’s match will mark the Rapids’ third appearance in the SCCL and their first since 2018. Colorado qualified for the continental club competition by finishing the 2021 MLS regular season as the top seed in the Western Conference with a club-record 61 points. Since the inception of the Champions League format in 2008-09, no team from outside Mexico has won the tournament and only four MLS clubs have reached the final in that span. Fraser is no stranger to the competition, having been an assistant coach with the Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC sides that ultimately reached the SCCL finals in 2011 and 2018, respectively. In a similar token, eleven players on the Rapids’ current roster have previously featured in the tournament: forwards Michael Barrios and Diego Rubio, midfielders Bryan Acosta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Nicolas Mezquida, Jack Price and Collen Warner, and defenders Steven Beitashour, Aboubacar Keita, Drew Moor and Danny Wilson. Moor, who has appeared in 12 SCCL matches throughout his career, started and played all 90 minutes in the first leg of the 2018 SCCL Final with Toronto.
Fraser’s men will face a Comunicaciones side that won the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf League (SCL), Concacaf’s secondary club competition, and that features former Chicago Fire FC striker Juan Anangonó. The 32-year-old Ecuadorian finished the 2021 SCL as both the tournament’s Best Player and Top Scorer with six goals. One of the most successful clubs in Guatemala’s history, Comunicaciones have won 30 domestic league titles and hold the record for most consecutive league championships (6).
“They’re a very good team, they have very talented players, size up front,” added Fraser. “Anangonó played in MLS briefly and actually, when I was at Chivas USA [2011-12], he was one of the players that we seriously wanted to try to go and get. It’s a small world, so here we are again. And their attacking midfielder, their number 10, Jose Contreras, he’s a very good player."
Following Thursday’s match, the Rapids will return to Colorado to host Comunicaciones in the second leg of their Round of 16 series on February 23. The team with the highest combined aggregate score between the two legs will advance to the SCCL’s quarterfinals.