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Rapids face Metapan in CCL opener

August 16, 2011 | 10:25 am No comments
By Shaun Schafer

Sanna Nyassi maneuvers past an Isidro Metapan defender during a CCL match in Seattle on July 28, 2010. Nyassi and the Colorado Rapids face Metapan on Wednesday. (Photograph by Jane Gershovich/Prost Amerika Soccer)

Nearly nine months after winning the team’s first title, the Colorado Rapids finally start the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday night.

Colorado gets the opportunity to host Isidro Metapan at 8 p.m. at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

On Monday, Colorado filed a 23-man roster for the match. Included on the list were the usual stalwarts for the team that won the 2010 MLS Cup and is currently 10-6-10 in MLS play.

Veteran midfielder Jamie Smith, who played in the European version of the Champions League with Scotland’s Celtic, and defender Anthony Wallace were ruled out due to injury. Youngsters Davy Armstrong, Josh Janniere, and Steve Emory will also not be available for selection.

Veteran Feel: While this is Colorado’s first step into the larger world outside of MLS play, the team boasts a number of CCL veterans.

Seven players have Champions League experience with their previous MLS clubs: Marvell Wynne (Toronto), Tyrone Marshall (Seattle), Brian Mullan (Houston), Joseph Nane (Toronto), Sanna Nyassi (Seattle), Jeff Larentowicz (New England) and Wells Thompson (New England).

Groupers: The Rapids were drawn into Group B play with Metapan, Real Espana and Santos Laguna.

Metapan reached the CCL as champions of El Salvador. Metapan has won four league titles in the past seven years. Los Caleros edged the Puerto Rico Islanders to earn a spot in the group stage.

Real Espana claimed a spot in the CCL with the Honduran crown. Los Aurinegros are looking to improve upon a last-place finish in their group in 2009-10.

Santos Laguna, the runners up in the Mexican league, represent the class of the group. Los Guerreros have appeared in the semifinal and quarterfinal of the CCL in two previous appearances.

Streaking: The Rapids enter the group stage on a run of great form. The team has won five of the past seven MLS matches and is undefeated in the past five (4-0-1).

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