Santos Laguna will welcome the Colorado Rapids to Estadio Corona on Wednesday, October 19th, for the final group stage match of the 2011-2012 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League. Santos have already secured qualification into the quarterfinal stage of the tournament while Colorado needs a win to ensure a quarterfinal spot within the region's top club tournament.
Colorado Rapids head coach Gary Smith has taken a strong squad to Mexico in a bid to qualify for the quarterfinals as the Rocky Mountain club wrapped up a MLS playoff spot on the weekend. The only player within the normal starting XI that did not travel was Pablo Mastroeni. The captain is still being evaluated after suffering a concussion against Real Salt Lake on Friday evening.
Santos Laguna has thrived under new head coach Benjamin Galindo. The former Atlas and Cruz Azul coach recently took over after the club was in talks with former US National Team coach Bob Bradley. Galindo also had a coaching spell with Santos Laguna in 2006. However, Santos currently leads Mexico's Apertura and has won four straight games in Mexico. Bob Bradley, meanwhile, has taken over as head coach of the Egyptian National Team.
Santos Laguna have a league match on Oct 22 against UAG and are likely to play a reserve-heavy side against Colorado. Meanwhile, the Rapids play against Vancouver Whitecaps at the BC Place on October 22 to conclude the MLS regular season. Should Colorado win in British Columbia, the club will ensure a home play-in fixture against an Eastern Conference club.
Colorado are coming off a tense 0-0 draw with bitter rivals Real Salt Lake on the weekend. The Rapids were unlucky not to claim the spoils over their geographical neighbors as poor finishing resulted with a scoreless draw. For Colorado to get a result in northern Mexico, their forwards need to be more clinical in front of goal. Colorado's defense has posted shutouts in their last two MLS league matches against FC Dallas, and Real Salt Lake, respectively.
The match will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel at 6:00 MST. Should Isidro Metapán draw Real España in El Salvador, the Rapids will qualify for the quarterfinals of the CCL regardless of their result in Torreon, Mexico.