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CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals Leg 1: Columbus vs Monterrey & Portland vs Club America

Paul Attfield

by Paul Attfield in Soccer

Apr 28, 2021 · 6:50 AM PDT

Columbus Crew SC midfielder Lucas Zelarayán (10) runs after the ball during an MLS soccer match against the Philadelphia Union, Sunday, April 18, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)
  • 2020 MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew hope the third time is a charm, playing its third-ever CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal in hopes of securing the team’s first semifinal berth
  • The Crew meet four-time winner CF Monterrey in one quarterfinal on Wednesday, with Portland Timbers playing Club America in the day’s other last-eight tie
  • Read on for betting odds, a full preview and best bets for the last two of the four CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals

With four CONCACAF Champions League titles over the past decade, CF Monterrey are very much the measuring stick for almost any team still left in the tournament. And that may be especially true for the reigning MLS Cup champions, the Columbus Crew, who are in the quarterfinal stage for the third time in franchise history and chasing a breakthrough appearance in the final four, beginning with the first leg on Wednesday evening.

The challenge facing the other MLS club in action on Wednesday is no less daunting, however. The Portland Timbers are playing host to the seven-time winners of the Champions Cup/Champions League, Club America, who are currently second in Liga MX but are winless in their previous three. While the Timbers have advanced the furthest they’ve ever got in their third Champions League campaign, this is their first matchup with a Mexican opponent.

Columbus Crew vs CF Monterrey Odds

Matchup Spread Moneyline Total at DraftKings
Columbus vs Monterrey COL +0.5 (-180) | MON -0.5 (+132) COL +210 | MON +135 | DRAW +220 Ov 2.5 (+120) | Un 2.5 (-165)

Odds as of April 27 at DraftKings

Can Crew Recapture Playoff Magic?

While the MLS champions showed some offensive flair in the round of 16, demolishing Nicaragua’s Real Esteli FC 5-0 over the two legs, their MLS season opener wasn’t quite as explosive. The team rolled through a goalless draw with reigning Supporters’ Shield winners, the Philadelphia Union, on the opening weekend, before getting a bye last weekend. However, given the convincing manner in which Philadelphia destroyed Atlanta United FC 3-0 in their Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Tuesday night, maybe that result wasn’t quite so bad.

The Crew’s track record against Mexican opposition in the Champions League is far from stellar though, with just one victory from six games played. Conversely, Monterrey have a fairly distinguished record against MLS opposition, emerging victorious on nine occasions in 12 games. Wednesday’s game will be the first encounter between Columbus and Monterrey.

Columbus will be hoping to benefit from the experience of playmaker Lucas Zelarayan. The Argentine is no stranger to the CCL, having reached the final with Monterrey’s local rivals Tigres in 2019, only to come up short against their city neighbors.

Monterrey Mixing It Up

While Monterrey handily disposed of their own round of 16 opponent, posting a pair of three-goal games on their way to a 6-1 aggregate win over Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic, they have struggled since. Monterrey have lost three straight games in the Mexican league and had a player dismissed in each of those losses.

However, though the team is just fourth in the Liga MX Clausura, it is likely clinging to a positive omen, with the team winning the title in each of the four previous occasions it reached the knockout phases.

Pick: Draw (+220)

Portland Timbers vs Club America Odds

Matchup Spread Moneyline Total at DraftKings
Portland vs Club America POR +0.5 (-157) | CA -0.5 (+117) POR  +225 | CA +120 | DRAW +235 Ov 2.5 (+108) | Un 2.5 (-148)

Timbers Breaking New Ground

Any team looking to go far in this tournament is going to face Mexican opposition eventually. So, in the team’s first trip to the knockout phases, it’s only natural that Portland meets a Liga MX team, and in Club America, it may be facing ideal opposition. Although Club America has won this competition seven times, it has just three wins in nine games against MLS teams.

On top of that, Club America is winless in three games in all competitions, including a 1-0 loss at home to Olimpia in the last round of the Champions League, although it squeaked through to the last eight on away goals.

Portland will be fielding something of a patchwork lineup here though, with Steve Clark, Jeremy Ebobisse, Aljaz Ivacic, Ismaila Jome and Jaroslaw Niezgoda all out injured, while Sebastian Blanco is also a doubt after picking up an ACL injury which caused him to miss the weekend’s win over Houston.

Club America Showing Cracks

As arguably the most famous team in North America, Club America have a fabled reputation and a trophy cabinet to match. But they haven’t won in CONCACAF since clinching a second straight Champions League in 2016, and haven’t clinched a Liga MX title since winning the Apertura in 2018.

And while they were far from convincing in advancing to the quarterfinal, at home in Mexico they finished third in the Apertura and are currently fourth in the Clausura, losing two of their last six away matches, most recently falling 3-1 to Toluca last weekend.

Pick: Over 2.5  (+108)

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