COLUMBUS OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Rafael Figueroa #19 of Santos Laguna and Andres Mendoza #10 of the Columbus Crew race to a loose ball as Jorge Manjarrez #4 of Santos Laguna watches on September 21 2010 at Crew Stadium in Columbus Ohio. Mendoza had the only goal as Columbus defeated Santos Laguna 1-0. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
The Colorado Rapids will welcome Santos Laguna to Dick's Sporting Goods Park for a CONCACAF Champions League clash in the Mile-High city. The match will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel at 8:00 MST. The match is also the first between the two favorites of Group B in the 2011-2012 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Colorado (1-0-1) will look to take advantage of a Santos Laguna (1-1-0) side that has struggled domestically in the Mexican league this season. However, the Rapids are coming off a two-game losing streak in MLS play, with recent losses to Chicago Fire and Los Angeles Galaxy. Colorado has also failed to score in both of those losses, going 2-0 and 1-0, respectively. Despite the two losses away from home, the Rapids will look to stay unbeaten in Group B in their other competition.
One of the main positives coming into this much-anticipated Champion's League clash is the fact that Drew Moor should return to the starting lineup. The Texan-native appeared in 69 straight MLS league matches before he missed the Los Angeles Galaxy away fixture due to suspension from yellow-card accumulation.
Santos Laguna hail from Torreon, Mexico, which is the largest city within the northern state of Coahuila. Just a few weeks ago, Santos Laguna made the world headlines for the wrong reasons when gunfire was heard outside of its home stadium, Estadio Corona, during a Mexican league match against Monarcas Morelia. The match was suspended after the referees ordered the players from the pitch after the gunfire (which was initially thought to be fireworks) was heard. The thousands of fans in attendance were evacuated without incident. However, the scenes outside the stadium reminded many that Torren is one of the most violent cities in Mexico due to the Mexican drug cartels and the drug trafficking within the country.
Santos Laguna also made the headlines within the United States media as they interviewed former United States national team coach Bob Bradley for the vacant head coaching position. Diego Cocca saw his head on the chopping block as the club have been winless in the Mexican league since July 30th. There were rumors that Bradley was named the new head coach. However, the Torreon club is expected to name Benjamin Galindo as the new manager. Bob Bradley, meanwhile, is still being courted by the Egyptian FA and is still in talks to take over the Egypt national team.
Prediction: Gary Smith is expected to name a strong starting lineup as he wants to take three points from home in this high-profile CCL clash with Santos Laguna. He also is well aware of the albiverdas (White and Green) struggles within the Mexican league and their slow start in CONCACAF. However, Santos could benefit from the thousands of fans that will flock to Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Tuesday evening. Santos fans are expected to number around 10,000-12,000 and will take the east section of the stadium. Rapids fans will file into the west stands. Look for Colorado to heap more misery on the Torreon-based club with a 2-1 win in the Mile-High city.