Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Full Champions League Schedule Released

The full schedule for the CONCACAF Champions League was released today. The Rapids schedule is (all game times are 8pm MDT except for the final game):

August 17th - Isidro Metapan - DSG Park

August 23rd - @Real Espana - San Pedro Sula, Honduras

September 13th - Santos Laguna - DSG Park

September 21st - Real Espana - DSG Park

September 28th - @Isidro Metapan -Metapan, El Salvador

October 19th - @Santos Laguna - Torreon, Mexico - 6pm MDT

A tough draw with the final two games on the road. We really want to be at at least 9 points before those games.

Colorado is now at the point of the season where they need to make some decisions about which games to focus on and which games to rest some of the best players. There's no way the starting XI can play all 15 games in the next 2.5 months. Here's the combined schedule, in three sections (CCL games in italics).

Sat. Aug. 13th @San Jose
Wed. Aug 17th Isidro Metapan
Sat. Aug 20th Chivas USA
Tue. Aug 23rd @Real Espana
Sat. Aug 27th @Chicago

I think the Rapids need to go for the home wins against Isidro Metapan and Chivas USA. The tough part is the quick turnaround after the Chivas game to get to Honduras. Hopefully the Rapidswill do well enough against Chivas to pull some key players early int he second half. Colorado should put the best lineup possible out against Real Espana without sacrificing the Chivas game. For the road games in San Jose and Chicago the plan should be a mix of reserves and starters.

Fri. Sept. 9th @LA
Tue. Sept. 13th Santos Laguna
Sat. Sept. 17th @Toronto
Wed. Sept. 21st Real Espana
Sat. Sept. 24th San Jose
Wed. Sept. 28th @Isidro Metapan
Sat. Oct. 1st Dallas

Ouch, that's 7 games in 23 days. At least there's only two long road trips in this period. The Rapids should prioritize the 4 home games and not worry at all about the trip to LA. Santos Laguna is going to be hard to beat anywhere, but we really need 3 points from that one. The Rapids should be able to win any of the last 4 games in this run, but winning them all in such a short period is unlikely at best. If the Rapids have at least 9 points going into El Salvador then a draw is all they probably need to worry about to advance and the can focus on the San Jose and Dallas matches on either side of the Isidro Metapan game. If they have less than 9 points they'll need to go for the win, and (as much as this pains me) they need to accept a loss or draw to Dallas at home in the following game.

Fri. Oct. 14th FSL
Wed. Oct. 19th @Santos Laguna
Sat. Oct. 22nd @Vancouver

Hopefully by this last week of the season we'll be in a position where we've clinched a playoff spot and one of the top 2 spots in the CCL group stage. Which of those we've failed to do (if any) will play a large part in determining the priorities for this week. Obviously if we haven't clinched a top 2 spot in the CCL the Santos Laguna game will be huge. Lets hope we don't need a win because I don't see us getting one in Mexico. If we still need to clinch a playoff spot the game in Vancouver is probably a better chance than the home game against FSL, given our track record.

With these priorities I see 46-49 points as a likely finish in the league, which should be more than enough to make the playoffs. I think the CCL has less room for error, but I can see us getting 9-11 points even with this schedule, which would put us right on the edge of qualifying for the knockout rounds.

No comments: