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A 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage mid-term report for New York Red Bulls fans

Checking in on CCL at the mid-point of the group stage.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League has reached the halfway point of its group stage: three match-days down, three to go. Most, but not all, teams have played two of the four games they will play in this phase of the competition. It seems an appropriate moment to take stock of the progress of this year's CCL - starting with the New York Red Bulls.

Group F: Alianza, Antigua, RBNY

RBNY has done exactly what it needs to do to get to the quarterfinals: win at homedraw away. The evidence of the Red Bulls' first two games suggests its group-mates are competitive enough to need to be taken seriously, but not quite capable of upsetting the MLS team if it puts out a strong lineup.

The draw between Alianza and Antigua helped RBNY. It means Alianza dropped points in both its home games, and now pretty much has to win twice on the road to advance; Antigua still has both its home games to play, but even winning out might not be enough for the Guatemalan club. The first tiebreakers in the group stage are head-to-head results and goal difference: Antigua won't just have to beat RBNY, it will have to beat RBNY 3-0, at least.

The Red Bulls are right where they want to be at the halfway point of the group stage: on track for the knockout rounds.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
New York Red Bulls 2 1 1 0 4 1 +3 4
Alianza 2 0 2 0 2 2 0 2
Antigua 2 0 1 1 1 4 -3 1

Prediction: RBNY to win the group with eight points.

Group A: Honduras Progreso, UNAM Pumas, W Connection

It's looking like an easy run to the quarterfinals for UNAM Pumas, who have maximum points from two games (played home and away). If there is to be a challenge to that perception, it can be expected to come from Honduras Progreso. The Honduran club still has both home games to play - but it must beat Pumas on September 15 to prolong its hope of playing its last group stage game with even a mathematical hope of making the quarterfinals.

And then Progreso must rely on W Connection to go to Mexico in October and get a result. This seems unlikely on current evidence.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
UNAM Pumas 2 2 0 0 6 2 +4 6
Honduras Progreso 2 0 1 1 1 3 -2 1
W Connection 2 0 1 1 3 5 -2 1

Prediction: Pumas to win the group with 12 points.

Group B: Dragon, Portland Timbers, Saprissa

An unbalanced schedule means all we know for sure at the halfway mark in Group B is Dragon is eliminated. Portland has only played once, and has yet to play Saprissa. The first set of matches confirmed the pre-tournament expectation that this group would come down to the results between the Costa Rican heavyweight and the reigning MLS Cup champ. But we really have very little sense of how those two will match up at the moment.

The transitive property is an unreliable predictor, but one should note that Saprissa breezed by Dragon at home. The Timbers needed a 90th-minute match-winner to put away the Salvadoran side in Portland.

Given the Timbers' struggles to stay in the Western Conference playoff race in MLS, one suspects the September CCL road games will be made secondary to league matches - and a reserve team probably won't be good enough to get a result in Costa Rica (and might not be adequate in El Salvador either). Portland might be in the MLS playoffs but out of CCL by the end of September.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
Saprissa 2 1 1 0 6 0 +6 4
Portland Timbers 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 3
Dragon 3 0 1 2 1 8 -7 1

Prediction: Saprissa to win the group with eight points.

Group C: Central FC, Sporting Kansas City, Vancouver Whitecaps

Both MLS teams in this group were lucky to get out of Trinidad with points, but Central blew its chances and Group C looks exactly as it was expected to be: a contest between the Canadian and American sides of MLS.

Vancouver's league form may be lamentable, but the 'Caps won the reserve-team battle with Sporting KC - and came away from Central FC with another three points - to put themselves in the driver's seat in this group.

Next up is KC's chance to use home advantage to win back the three points Vancouver took from the clubs' first meeting. But the 'Caps really have just one job: beat Central FC at home on September 28. If they do that, they win the group - regardless of what KC does in its remaining games.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
Vancouver Whitecaps 2 2 0 0 4 0 +4 6
Sporting Kansas City 2 0 1 1 2 5 -3 1
Central FC 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1

Prediction: Vancouver to win the group with nine points.

Group D: Arabe Unido, Don Bosco, Monterrey

The one true upset of the CCL group stage so far this year: Panamanian club Arabe Unido beat Liga MX's Monterrey. In Mexico.

That achievement means Monterrey's CCL knockout rounds have started early: it must beat Arabe Unido in Panama on September 14, or its competition is over. El Expreso Azul won't have the element of surprise this time around, but it will have home advantage. And Monterrey doesn't just need to win: it needs to win by sufficient number of goals to wrest the tiebreakers advantage away from Arabe Unido.

It is looking a lot like Los Arabes' group to lose at the moment. Haiti's Don Bosco meanwhile waits to find out if its two remaining road games are going to be competitive, or if the Panamanian team will be doing its victory lap by the time the Haitian side comes to visit.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
Arabe Unido 2 2 0 0 8 4 +4 6
Monterrey 2 1 0 1 5 3 +2 3
Don Bosco 2 0 0 2 2 8 -6 0

Prediction: Monterrey to win the group with nine points.

Group E: Olimpia, Pachuca, Police United

Pachuca isn't sitting quite as pretty as the table suggests. Its two wins were its two home games: it's expected to win those. Now it must go on the road. And it's primary problem is it only beat Olimpia 1-0 in the first game against the Honduran club.

So Pachuca did what it had to do, but by pretty much the smallest margin it could. The only worse way to win would have been with Olimpia scoring an away goal. Now both Olimpia and Pachuca will head to Belize, hoping to wallop Police United by many, many goals. And then Los Tuzos must travel to Honduras.

If Olimpia has kept pace with its Mexican rival, it will have about as much as it could have asked for out of this group: the chance to progress if it can beat Pachuca at home and stay on the right side of the tiebreakers. Los Leones have done it before: it's how they knocked Portland Timbers out of the group stage of the 2014-15 CCL. Los Tuzos must tread carefully.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
Pachuca 2 2 0 0 4 0 +4 6
Olimpia 2 1 0 1 4 1 +3 3
Police United 2 0 0 2 0 7 -7 0

Prediction: Pachuca to win the group with 10 points.

Group G: Herediano, Plaza Amador, UANL Tigres

Tigres made light work of what was thought to be their most difficult group stage game, beating Herediano 3-1 in Costa Rica. Throw in the fact the Liga MX side beat Plaza Amador by the same margin in Mexico, and that the Panamanian and Costa Rican teams could only tie their first encounter - and everything is coming up Tigres.

The Mexican team may not even have to kick a ball to qualify from here: if Herediano and Plaza Amador draw again on September 15, Tigres wins the group.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
UANL Tigres 2 2 0 0 6 2 +4 6
Herediano 2 0 1 1 2 4 -2 1
Plaza Amador 2 0 1 1 2 4 -2 1

Prediction: UANL Tigres to win with 12 points.

Group H: FC Dallas, Real Esteli, Suchitepequez

Another unbalanced group. All we really know about Group G is that Real Esteli is out - but is a stubborn opponent that might yet cause complications for Suchitepequez. The Guatemalan side plays in Nicaragua on September 13, and needs to come away with a result at least the equal of FCD's 1-1 tie on the road against Real Esteli. That would then give FCD and Suchitepequez a fairly straightforward home-and-away series to decide which of them goes to the knockout rounds.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
FC Dallas 2 1 1 0 3 2 +1 4
Suchitepequez 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
Real Esteli 3 0 1 2 2 4 -2 1

Prediction: FC Dallas to win with eight points.

Predicted Quarterfinalists & Seedings

Predictions after three rounds of a six-round group stage aren't worth a great deal. There will likely be another surprising result or two, and the final seedings will probably be determined by some narrow margins. But for RBNY fans, it is perhaps helpful to visualize what the club might be looking at if it does indeed make the quarterfinals with eight points: a low seed, probably ceding home advantage in the second leg to a Liga MX team.

Maybe. There are plenty more games to play yet.

Seed Team Points
1 UNAM Pumas 12
2 UANL Tigres 12
3 Pachuca 10
4 Vancouver Whitecaps 9
5 Monterrey 9
6 Saprissa 8
7 RBNY 8
8 FC Dallas 8