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CONCACAF Notebook: 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF League Semifinals Preview

We get you caught up on news around CONCACAF, and preview the SCL Semifinals.

Soccer: Concacaf Champions League-Toronto FC at Guadalajara Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike at this time last year, FC Dallas is not guaranteed a spot in the upcoming 2019 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, and must pretty much win MLS Cup to qualify for it. It is for that very same reason, that many FC Dallas fans may not even be aware that the 2018 CONCACAF League began several weeks ago, and has already progressed to the semifinals. The winner of the 2018 SCL will advance to the 2019 SCCL, and join the list of already qualified teams awaiting (should they qualify) FC Dallas to join them.

2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF League Semifinals

Tauro FC (Panama) vs. Motagua (Honduras)

Leg 1 - Tauro FC vs. Motagua, Thursday, September 20, 7:00pm

Leg 2 - Motagua vs. Tauro FC, Thursday, September 27, 9:00pm

How they got here:

Tauro FC is currently dead last in the LPF Table, and have surrendered more goals (11 goals) than they have scored (10 goals) in league play. Tauro FC has focused on the SCL, and have thus scored nine goals, while only allowing two goals. Tauro’s competition has been rather weak in SCL play thus far, having beaten Real Espana by a 2-1 aggregate score, and Walter Ferreti by a 7-1 aggregate score. Tauro FC has a 4-3-4 record across all competitions, and runs a 4-3-3 formation.

Motagua is currently second place in the Liga Nacional Table, currently two points behind last years Scotiabank CONCACAF League winner Olimpia. Motagua has the top defense in league play, allowing only four goals. Motagua has seen their defensive play carry over into the SCL, where they have only allowed two goals total. Motagua has also had pretty weak competition, having beaten Belmopan Bandits 3-0 on aggregate score, and Portmore United by a 5-2 aggregate score. Motagua has a 9-0-2 record across all competitions, and a 12 goal differential across those 11 matches. Motagua is currently on a four-game unbeaten run, and have to be considered the tournament favorites.

Players to watch:

Tauro FC - Edwin Aguilar & Armando Polo, are the players that the Tauro attack revolves around. Aguilar has seven goals and two assists across all competitions, while Polo has six goals and four assists across all competitions.

Motagua - Jonathan Rougier & Roman Castillo. Rougier is an Argentine goalkeeper who has seven clean sheets across all competitions, while Castillo leads the attack with seven goals and two assists.

Herediano (Costa Rica) vs. Arabe Unido (Panama)

Leg 1 - Herediano vs. Arabe Unido, Tuesday, September 20, 9:00pm

Leg 2 - Arabe Unido vs. Herediano, Tuesday, September 27, 7:00pm

How they got here: Herediano is currently 3rd place in Primera Division Table, which is widely considered the third toughest D1 league in CONCACAF (behind Liga MX, and MLS). Herediano had the toughest road to the semifinals, with a 2-2 win (on PKs) over Santa Tecla, and a 5-1 win over Universitario (formerly known as Chorrillo). Herediano has a 8-3-3 record across all competitions with a +10 goal differential, and is the other team expected to challenge for the tournament title.

Arabe Unido is currently second to last in the LPF Table, only 1 point ahead of Tauro FC, with a -4 goal differential in league play. Arabe Unido also had a fairly easy road to the semifinals, defeating Arnett Gardens by a 4-2 aggregate score, and FAS by a 4-1 aggregate score. Arabe Unido enters the semifinals on a two-game losing streak, and have just struggled to find any consistency.

Players to watch:

Herediano - Has a very balanced attack, but look to Jose Ortiz when they need a big goal, and he currently paces the team with five goals scored.

Arabe Unido has struggled to find consistency in the attack, and are currently lead by Colombian Raul Penaranda with three goals and three assists. Looking to address their shortcomings on offense, Arabe Unido has brought in Blas Perez, who was a double digit scorer last season for Municipal (Guatemala). The early returns have been good, as Blas has two goals and one assist in four games played.

In other CONCACAF news

Guatemala back in the fold

Guatemala D1 champions have been excluded from the first two Scotiabank CONCACAF League tournaments (and the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League). This has happened due to Guatemala being banned from FIFA due to non-compliance.

Guatemala is back in compliance with FIFA, and will now be allowed to compete in all FIFA sanctioned competitions. This means that Guatemalan league clubs will now be able to compete in next year’s Scotiabank CONCACAF League.

Canadian Premier League set to launch in 2019

CanPL is currently set to launch with seven teams:

The Ottawa Fury delivered the CanPL it’s first setback, when the team widely considered to be the 8th founding member, opted to remain in the USL. The league is currently looking at quite a few possible locations, in the hope of fast tracking one of them as the eighth founding member. In the meantime, the CanPL is proceeding along as if it will only have seven clubs in 2019. Very little is known about the league itself, other than there will be a salary cap, and that the league will likely hold a yearly collegiate draft. The league is currently in the process of beginning player trials around the nation for each founding club.

Puerto Rico makes big soccer investment