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CONCACAF Notebook: CONCACAF League Semifinals Preview

The new tournament is coming close to an end with the semifinals coming up.

Welcome to Big D Soccer’s continued coverage of the Scotiabank CONCACAF League. Down to the final four, we’ll take a closer look at the remaining contenders.

We’ll take a look at all the teams combined regular season and SCL records (won-draw-loss), so we have a better understanding of what each team has going for it.

All times posted are Central Standard time. Players stats are across all competitions.

All games are being streamed live on YouTube and

Scotiabank CONCACAF League 2017 Semifinals

First Semifinal: CD Arabe Unido vs. AD Santos De Guapiles

Away Leg Wednesday, September 13, 2017 9pm: CD Arabe Unido (PAN) vs. AD Santos de Guapiles (CRC)

Return Leg Thursday, September 21, 2017 7pm AD Santos de Guapiles (CRC) vs. CD Arabe Unido (PAN)

CD Arabe Unido (PAN) 8-4-1

defeated Central FC 5-1, defeated CD Aguila 2-1

Strengths: Arabe Unido has several strengths. Arabe Unido has a formidable array of weapons at its disposal, with starting forwards Rennan Aldes (four goals/one assist), Nelson Barahona (two goals, one assists) , and Enrico Small (two goals), each capable of dealing opponents a deadly blow. All three of the forwards have been formidable to start the season, and offseason addition Jusiel Nuniez (2 goals) is currently in fine form. The most dangerous man for Arabe Unido at this time is super-sub Carlos Small, I only say super-sub because Arabe Unido has been bringing Carlos Small off the bench in SCL play, where he leads all scorers with 4 goals, and currently has 6 goals across all competitions.

Arabe Unido also has a defense that has only allowed 7 goals across all competitions, and has yet to allow anyone to score more than a single goal against them. The backbone of this defense is Dominican Republic National team member Miguel Lloyd, the goalkeeper has 6 clean sheets on the season.

Arabe Unido finds itself on a run of good form to start the Panamanian Apertura, having yet to taste defeat in league play, and sitting tied for the best record atop the table.

Weakness: In their only loss so far, Arabe Unido had to play with only ten men, as defender Roberto Chen received 2 yellow cards in the first half against CD Aguila. This is a reminder that one of their biggest issues last season, is still a concern today. Lack of Discipline, is something that Arabe Unido’s players have struggled with, from reckless tackles, to retaliation fouls, to just boneheaded penalties. This is a team that plays with a lot of passion and fire, but that kind of fire can burn both ways. Arabe Unido was able to survive the red card this previous round, but the opposition from here on out, will be far less forgiving.

AD Santos De Guapiles (CRC) 6-4-2

defeated San Juan Jabloteh 8-3, defeated Chorrillo FC 2-0

Strengths: Santos De Guapiles is an offensive juggernaut, having scored 24 goals in 12 matches played. A team that will score from anywhere and everywhere, Santos De Guapiles has 5 players who have scored at least 3 goals. Forwards Starling Matarrita and Kenny Cunningham key the attack, with 3 goals a piece, and they are supported in the midfield by Osvaldo Rodriguez (3 goals), Wilmer Azofeifa (1 goal/4 assists) and Reimond Salas (4 goals).

Santos De Guapiles excels in set pieces, with team captain Eder Mungio (center back) particularly dangerous on set pieces with three goals. All four defenders have scored at least once this season.

Santos De Guapiles is the only team to have a perfect 4-0 record in SCL play, and is the top seed should they advance into the final.

Weakness: Santos De Guapiles has allowed multiple goals on 6 occasions, and have only 4 clean sheets on the season. It also must be pointed out that Santos is currently on a run of bad form, having failed to win a match in their last 4 matches played, and having been outscored by a combined score of 7-4 in that span. The current run of bad form, has seen Santos drop to 7th place on the Apertura Table.

Second Semifinal: CD Plaza Amador vs. CD Olimpia

Away Leg Thursday, September 14, 2017 9pm: CD Plaza Amador (PAN) vs. CD Olimpia (HON)

Return Leg Wednesday, September 20, 2017 9pm: CD Olimpia (HON) vs. CD Plaza Amador (PAN)

CD Plaza Amador (PAN) 7-5-1

defeated Portmore United 1-1 (5-4 on PKs), defeated Walter Ferreti 2-1

Strengths: Plaza Amador is a well balanced team, having scored 17 goals and allowed 8 goals across all competitions. Their defense has been solid lead by goalkeeper Eric Hughes (five clean sheets), and defender Algish Dixon who has started in all 4 SCL matches.

On offense, Plaza Amador has multiple threats to throw at you, starting with young (22-years old) left midfielder Jose Murillo who leads the team with 6 goals and veteran forward Ernesto Sinclair who is second on the team with 4 goals.

Plaza Amador has been in excellent form, currently first place in the Apertura table, and yet to taste defeat in league play.

Weakness: While it is hard to pinpoint a weakness on this team, one only recently became apparent. Plaza Amador just lost playmaker and Panamanian National Team player Valentin Pimentel to injury. Pimentel was injured while playing for the PNMT, and will be out for at least 3 months. Pimentel was the kind of player that could create something out of nothing, and losing a player of his quality, will surely be felt against CD Olimpia.

CD Olimpia (HON) 5-2-2

defeated Alajuelense 3-0, defeated Alianza FC 2-1

Strengths: Let us start with the obvious, Olimpia knows how to win the big games. This is a team with 30 Honduran League championships, 2 CONCACAF Champions Cup titles, and is the only team to have participated in all 9 editions of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. Were it not for Guatemalan teams being barred from all international competitions by FIFA, Olimpia would have missed this tournament, being only invited as a replacement for one of the Guatemalan teams. This just highlights that fact that things simply go Olimpias way, and one way or another, they find a way to advance.

Olimpia is a big club and has a ton of depth, with 6 Honduras National Team players on the roster, this team is built for attrition. They have a formidable defense that has only allowed 5 goals on the year, and goalkeeper Donis Escober has tallied 5 clean sheets to date. Their all South American backline is tough to crack, and Olimpia is not afraid to win ugly if it has to.

Attacking midfielder Alexander Lopez (three assists) runs the show on offense, and the attack can count on forwards Roger Rojas (three goals/one assist) and team captain Carlo Costly (4 goals). Costly in particular has been on tear, with 3 goals in the last 3 matches played.

Weakness: Olimpia is not the most dynamic of teams, as they have very little in the attack, outside of their top 2 scorers. Olimpia will face formidable defenses from here on out, should they advance, and goals will be at a premium.