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A 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage Fourth Round round-up for New York Red Bulls fans

Or why Arabe Unido might be the top seeded team heading into the quarterfinals.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League kicks off the fifth round of its group stage games on September 27. By September 29, every group will have just one game left to play, which makes the upcoming round decisive for many teams in the competition.

Before those matches are played, here's a look at where the groups stand after four round, and what that suggests about the upcoming games and the tournament's knockout rounds.

This is a guide for New York Red Bulls fans, so it starts with Group F.

Group F: Alianza, Antigua, RBNY

The Red Bulls eliminated Alianza in the last round of games, and made themselves clear favorites to progress to the knockout rounds. For Antigua to pass RBNY in the group table, it needs to win its last two games. And for that to happen, it needs to be allowed to play its last two games: right now, the Guatemalan club could be ejected from CCL on October 1, when FIFA might implement a threatened suspension of the Guatemalan Football Federation.

Even if Antigua does win out, it can only tie RBNY on points - so it needs to beat the Red Bulls on September 27 by sufficient margin to get itself a tiebreaker advantage. And that means Antigua needs to beat RBNY by three goals or more.

It will be a surprise if - win, lose or draw - RBNY isn't assured a quarterfinal spot after this round of matches.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
New York Red Bulls 3 2 1 0 5 1 +4 7
Alianza (eliminated) 3 0 2 1 2 3 -1 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

The big surprise in the last round of games was Honduras Progreso's 2-1 win over Pumas. Unfortunately for the Honduran side, UNAM found an away goal - and the advantage in head-to-head tiebreakers.

Progreso plays Trinidad and Tobago's W Connection at home on September 29, and will be expected to win that to briefly take the lead in the group. But unless the Trinidadians spring the upset of the tournament in Mexico on October 20 (and no one is expecting that to happen), Pumas will advance to the quarterfinals.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
UNAM Pumas 3 2 0 1 7 4 +3 6
Honduras Progreso 3 1 1 1 3 4 -1 4
W Connection 2 0 1 1 3 5 -2 1

Prediction: Pumas to win the group with nine points

Group B: Dragon, Portland Timbers, Saprissa

Portland lost to Saprissa in Costa Rica in the last round. The 4-2 defeat was not unexpected, nor was it necessarily damaging to the Timbers' hopes.

Portland still controls its destiny in Group B. Its target for its September 27 match against Dragon in El Salvador is simply not to lose. A win or a draw against the already-eliminated Salvadoran club makes no great difference (though, yes, a win would be better): just don't lose, and the Timbers head to an October 19 showdown with Saprissa that they will have to win.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
Saprissa 3 2 1 0 10 2 +8 7
Portland Timbers 2 1 0 1 4 5 -1 3
Dragon (eliminated) 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

The 'Caps have already qualified for the next round, thanks to a 2-1 win in Kansas City in the last round. Their next task is to beat Central FC on September 28 to secure maximum points and position themselves for a high seed for the quarterfinals. It will be important to not just win, but try to run up the score to maximize goal difference for a best-possible ranking for the knockout rounds.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goals Difference Points
Vancouver Whitecaps (QF) 3 3 0 0 6 1 +5 9
Sporting Kansas City (eliminated) 3 0 1 2 3 7 -4 1
Central FC (eliminated) 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1

Prediction: Vancouver to win the group with 12 points.

Group D: Arabe Unido, Don Bosco, Monterrey

Arabe Unido shocked the tournament by following up its surprise 3-2 win over Monterrey in Mexico with a 2-1 home win over the presumptive group winner. The three-time CCL champion is out, and the Panamanian team has qualified for the quarterfinals with two rounds yet to be played.

Arabe Unido's success renders Monterrey's September 28 match against Don Bosco irrelevant: two eliminated teams playing for pride and experience. The Panamanians will return to action on October 18 against Haiti's Don Bosco, hoping to head to the knockout rounds with maximum points and a top-three seed for the quarterfinals.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
Arabe Unido (QF) 3 3 0 0 10 5 +5 9
Monterrey (eliminated) 3 1 0 2 6 5 +1 3
Don Bosco (eliminated) 2 0 0 2 2 8 -6 0

Prediction: Arabe Unido to win the group with 12 points

Group E: Olimpia, Pachuca, Police United

Pachuca's 11-0 win over Police United in Belize has established Los Tuzos as the pacesetters for the quarterfinals. But to turn that massive goal difference advantage into the top seed in the knockout rounds, they will need to beat Olimpia in Honduras in October.

Before then, on September 29, Olimpia will seek to run up the score against Police United in Belize, to keep the pressure on Pachuca and establish its own case for a high seed if it can beat Los Tuzos in October.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
Pachuca 3 3 0 0 15 0 +15 9
Olimpia 2 1 0 1 4 1 -3 3
Police United (eliminated) 3 0 0 3 0 18 -18 0

Prediction: Pachuca to win the group with 10 points

Group G: Herediano, Plaza Amador, UANL Tigres

Tigres travels to Panama for a September 28 match against Plaza Amador that could clinch the group for the Mexican club. A win puts Tigres through to the next round. A tie or loss would be disappointing, but the Liga MX team concludes its group stage at home against Herediano in October, so it will still be the favorite to progress even if things go awry in Panama.

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
UANL Tigres 2 2 0 0 6 2 +4 6
Herediano 3 1 1 1 4 4 0 4
Plaza Amador (eliminated) 3 0 1 2 2 6 -4 1

Prediction: Tigres to win the group with 12 points.

Group H: FC Dallas, Real Esteli, Suchitepequez

FIFA's argument with Guatemala's sports authorities threatens to ruin a nicely poised group. Real Esteli proved a challenging opponent for both Dallas and Suchitepequez, setting up a mini-knockout series to conclude Group H. First, the Guatemalan side travels to FCD on September 28; then Dallas heads to Guatemala for the October 20 return leg. May the best team win.

Unfortunately, if FIFA suspends Guatemalan soccer on October 1, we may not get to see this group play out properly. If Suchitepquez is not allowed to play on October 20, it will forfeit its final game, and FCD will advance.

Still, FCD can settle any speculation about what might have been - or reduce any concern about what might happen if it does have to play in Guatemala in October - with a big win at home. A win by three goals or more will be the target for FCD; anything less gives hope to Suchitepequez (if it is allowed to play its final game).

Team Played Won Tied Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
FC Dallas 2 1 1 0 3 2 +1 4
Suchitepequez 2 1 1 0 2 1 +1 4
Real Esteli (eliminated) 4 0 2 2 3 5 -2 2

Prediction: FCD to win the group with 10 points (including win by forfeit in the last round)

Predicted Quarterfinalists & Seedings

At the mid-point of this competition, this report had all four Mexican team advancing to the knockout rounds. Well, we know that isn't going to happen. Vancouver and Arabe Unido are definitely in the quarterfinals (and Monterrey is definitely not), and look solid candidates for maximum points. Tigres looks likely to pick up 12 points also; Pachuca still can - though this prediction is betting against Los Tuzos getting four wins, the can be considered current favorites for the top seed.

For RBNY, the prospect of getting a high seed looks remote. Its points ceiling is 10, and that can only happen with a win in Guatemala. Even then, Pachuca is carrying such a big goal difference that it seems likely to win any tiebreaker for quarterfinal seeding. So the top four seeds seem out of the Red Bulls' reach at the moment.

That changes, of course, with a big win in Guatemala and little help from an unexpected result or two over the next couple of rounds. But for now, this prediction sees RBNY having to try to make its way through the knockout rounds the hard way, as the lowest seed in the tournament.

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