BRENT LATHAM - Tuesday, March 9, 2010
American midfielder Jose Francisco Torres and Pachuca travel south to Guatemala for their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match, hoping to improve on a string of negative results.
Pachuca takes on traditional Guatemalan power Comunicaciones FC in the first leg of their home and home series Wednesday night at Estadio Cementos Progreso on the outskirts of Guatemala City.
The Mexican team has their eyes on a second CONCACAF crown in three years, after participating in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan at the end of 2008.
The Tuzos, however, have not won in four Mexican League matches, after beginning the season with four victories in five matches. While they remain only one point out of the playoffs, they lost ground after a 3-0 defeat at group leader Monterrey over the weekend, leaving coach Guilliermo Riverola under pressure.
Pachuca's high-powered offense has been sputtering in recent weeks, perhaps feeling the off-season loss of Argentine Christian Gimenez, who moved on to Cruz Azul over the winter break.
Torres for his part has played a large part in the positive side of Pachuca's Clausura campaign, having gained Rivarola's trust in starting six of the eight league contests and appearing as a sub in another. The midfielder has recently returned from duty with the US national team, where he played the first half of the 2-1 loss versus Holland in Amsterdam last week.
While Pachuca looks for a result to head back home to Mexico, their hosts will hope to prove that they can hang with one of Mexico's more highly regarded clubs. Comunicaciones is one of the more storied clubs in Central America, and is currently on a good run, leading the league table in the Guatemalan Clausura.
The winner of the two leg quarterfinal will face the winner of the Colombus Crew - Toluca series for a spot in the regional final. In other quarterfinals, Cruz Azul travels to Panama to play Arabe Unido, and Marathon of Honduras hosts Pumas.