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Article:All Drawn in CONCACAF Champions Cup Openers

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The 2008 version of the CONCACAF Champions' Cup opened this week.  This year's tournament will be the swan song event for the Champions Cup.  The Champions Cup dates back to 1962 and has been the tournament to crown the club champion in the CONCACAF region.  The Champions Cup will be replaced by the a new tournament the CONCACAF Champions League which will begin sometime in August 2008.  In the meantime the final Champions Cup will be used to determine who will represent CONCACAF at the FIFA Club World Cup to be held in Japan in December 2008.

This past Tuesday saw the opening match of the quarter-finals between CD Motagua of Honduras playing the 2007 Mexican Clausura Champions and current holders of the Champions Cup Pachuca.  The first leg was played at Tegucigalpa, Honduras with a final of Nil-Nil.  The second leg will be played at Pachuca on March 19.

The two MLS sides in the competition both opened on the road yesterday.  The MLS Supporters' Shield holders DC United travelled to Jamaica to face Harbour View F.C.  United took a lead as Devon McTavish scored in first half injury time.  However, a determined Habour View side eventually found an equalizer in the 85th minute on a scrambling type of play in front of the United goal.  I was flipping between this match and the Penguins and Sabres game and from what I saw United looked a bit rusty, which is to be expected I suppose.  However, United did come away with the crucial away goal so they do hold an advantage coming back to RFK Stadium on March 18.  The current MLS Cup holders, Houston Dynamo, also saw action as they travelled to Guatamala City to face CSD Municipal.  Fox Soccer Channel showed this match immediately after the DC United match and from what I could see Houston were in a fairly hostile environment as the Municipal fans were lighting all kinds of flares  at the start of the match.  I was interested to see who would start up front alongside Brian Ching since the Dynamo have lost both Joseph Ngwenya and Nate Jaqua to Austrian teams.  In stepped Chris Wondolowski for Houston to partner Ching.  While the game ended Nil-Nil Houston did produce some chances and Wondolowski missed the best chances of the first half.  A scrappy effort midway through the first half was saved by the Municipal keeper and later Wondolowski shot wide of the far post.  The second half saw Ricardo Clark almost give Houston the advantage but the shot from around 30 yards out grazed the post.  Municipal did threaten the Houston net but 40 year old keeper Pat Onstad stood firm as the match ended in a draw. 

The final quarter final opener will take place today in Cancun as Mexican side CF Atlante host Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa.

All in all not a bad showing for the MLS teams in their first legs.  Both United and Houston will host the second legs which should provide some momentum for them.  Should Houston win they would face the winner of the Atlante and Saprissa quarter final and if United win they would then face the winner of the Pachuca and Motagua quarter final.  It's all up for grabs now in the Champions Cup and I for one am hoping that both United and Houston can go through to the semi-finals.

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