By Jacob Klinger
The Houston Dynamo's decisive home win against FAS Thursday night concluded the continental United States' involvement in the CONCACAF Champions League for the next month.
While American MLS outfits will spend that month grappling for playoff position, they all rest fairly contently in CCL play.
Real Salt Lake is in the least comfortable position of the MLS teams involved in continental play. Salt Lake's opening-day loss away to Herediano means Group 2 will likely come down to goal differential. Heredia welcomes goalless Tauro on Tuesday. If the Costa Rican hosts win as expected the group's quarterfinal spot will be decided Oct. 23 in Salt Lake.
Real and Herediano are even on points and goal differential at the moment, but the latter's game in hand means Salt Lakemay begin their October grudge match needing three points and an untold number of goals. On the bright side, Herediano has yet to score more than one goal in its two group matches so far. Regardless, Real controls its own fate. If Jason Kreis' team cannot pull off a one- or two-goal win at home then the quarterfinals are undeserved.
Houston is just about in the same boat only the Dynamo have a neat three-goal cushion on the goal differential front. Just as in Group 2, Olimpia is to play its game in hand against the group minnow before heading stateside for what amounts to the group final. Olimpia put three past FAS at home, but traveling to El Salvador should not be so easy. The Dynamo will likely host needing nothing more than a draw. That's not to say everything's put to bed, but in a four-game group that's about as much as one can ask for.
The Sounders have the best position of any MLS club headed into the final fixture. Seattle is already through as Sigi Schmid's team leads Group 4 by an insurmountable eight point. Winning every single game is nice like that. The group finale against Marathón should be one for the reserves.
The Galaxy face the worst fixture of the group on the last day of play. If Metapán leaves Puerto Rico next Thursday with the three points its expected to get, L.A. must secure a point on the road in El Salvador to advance. No mean feat, but with the Galaxy's depth coming around a result should be theirs.
HAVE YOUR SAY ... Expect all the American MLS teams to make it through? What do you expect from them in the quarters? Say it in the Facebook comments section below.
Jacob Klinger is a contributing writer to Soccer 365 where his column "Ready, Set, America" appears regularly. He also writes for No Short Corners and the Daily Orange. Jacob's love for the game goes back as far as he can remember, but was truly christened during the United States' cardiac qualifying campaign for Korea/Japan 2002. Between classes and columns, he still plays. You can follow him on Twitter @MrJacobK or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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