Top 10 goals of the CONCACAF Champions League 2014-15 Group Stage
Austin Fido offers his choice of the best goals from the CCL 2014-15 group stage…
The first sign of winter is here: CONCACAF Champions League has packed up until spring. To help you through the long, dark months without the nurturing warmth of CCL, here is a selection of the best goals from this year’s group stage.
There were 166 goals scored during the group stage, and only 10 (OK…12) on this list – if you think you there’s something missing, let’s have it out in the comments.
To the goals…
#10 Edder Delgado – Real España vs. Pachuca (Round 6)
Let’s start things off with a simple one: on the dribble, look up, see goal, put laces through the ball. Done.
What’s that? You want another look? Sure.
#9 Dario Carreño – Pachuca @ Municipal (Round 3)
When people talk about the squad depth Liga MX clubs are able to put together relative to MLS teams, it’s guys like Carreño they have in mind. He’s essentially a career impact sub: good for a few goals every year, but not often a starter (he’s yet to start more than 10 Liga MX games in a season, but he’s accumulated more than 100 appearances in the league).
And he’s got 12 goals in CCL for his career to date, including three this term – all of which arrived in Pachuca’s 7-3 win over Municipal in Guatemala.
The best of those was arguably this long-ranger, achieved with minimal back lift. It’s a remarkably powerful shot given the economy of effort that goes into it, but it is placement more than power that gets it past the ‘keeper.
#8 Fredixon Elvir – Olimpia vs. Alpha United (Round 3)
On the subject of placement…ignore the defensive error that creates this opportunity, and the theatrical flailing of a goalkeeper who was thoroughly overwhelmed in this game – instead, consider the perfect trajectory Elvir gets from a one-touch side-footed shot from outside the area.
#7 Free Kicks!
Romario Campbell – Waterhouse FC @ Tauro FC (Round 1)
Barbosa Murillo – Alpha United vs. Portland Timbers (Round 2)
Toni Dovale – Sporting Kansas City @ Real Esteli (Round 2)
The 10 best direct free kicks of the group stage would be a pretty enjoyable highlight reel, but there is only room for one on this list.
Unfortunately, deciding which one is too difficult a task for this adjudicator.
Romario Campbell’s first-minute knockout punch in Panama?
Barbosa Murillo scoring Alpha United’s only goal of the tournament?
Toni Dovale’s delicately placed curler in Nicaragua?
#6 Maxi Urruti – Portland Timbers vs. Olimpia (Round 4)
Noel Valladares had a game to forget in Portland, but he is the second-most capped player in the history of the Honduran national team – and Urruti takes him out of the game with one touch.
#5 Francisco Calvo – Herediano @ Leon (Round 3)
This goal was about persistence. A far-post corner routine almost works out, but is cleared off the line. The ball comes back out, Alexander Larín looks up, sees pretty much the same set-up he was surveying from the corner flag, and gives it another try: second time’s a charm.
#4 Carlos Ruiz – Municipal vs. Pachuca (Round 3)
He can’t keep going indefinitely, but Carlos Ruíz seems to be enjoying the twilight of his career. He’s scored nine goals in his first nine league appearances this season in Guatemala, and picked up three goals in three CCL games – including this emphatic volley.
#3 Martín Zúñiga – América vs. Puerto Rico Bayamón FC (Round 2)
It is difficult to break in to a starting lineup as stacked and successful as that of América in 2014. Time is on Zúñiga’s side – he’s only 21 – and he is making a name for himself as a bit of a cup specialist.
The young forward has accumulated 10 goals in Copa MX over the past two seasons, and now he’s bagged five in three appearances in CONCACAF Champions League.
Yes, those goals have all been scored against Bayamón, one the weakest teams in this year’s tournament. But it would be churlish to deny his bicycle-kick beauty simply because it occurred against a sub-optimal opponent.
#2 Romell Quioto – Olimpia vs. Portland Timbers (Round 6)
At 23, Quioto is the oldest of Olimpia’s trio of forwards (18-year-old Alberto Elis and 21-year-old Anthony Lozano are the other two) jostling for a regular starting role with the Honduras national team. He’s also the only one that has (allegedly) attracted the interest of Manchester City.
With another strong showing in the Honduran Liga Nacional (six goals in 10 appearances as of October 18, 2014), Quioto may be a candidate to move away from Los Leones in the January transfer window.
This would be unfortunate, because it would endanger the possibility of CCL seeing more goals like this one:
#1: Fabian Espindola – DC United @ Waterhouse FC (Round 4)
We haven’t seen much of the best of DC United in CCL so far this season: the team was able to get maximum points in its group and the top seed for the quarterfinals while leaning heavily on its reserves.
But Ben Olsen did send several first-choice players to Jamaica, after watching Waterhouse give his second-tier lineup all it could handle at RFK Stadium.
The result was three points earned largely on the back of a supreme moment of ability from Fabian Espindola.
CONCACAF Champions League returns in February 2015 (we think…the schedule is currently provisional)
Follow @OTFSoccer for continuing CCL coverage
Austin Fido is OTF’s resident Concachampions fanatic. Follow him @canetop.