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September 30, 2016
Champions League check

By Brian Trusdell
Soccer News Net Writer

Too good to last?

With one round of games remaining in the CONCACAF Champions League, MLS still has a chance to match last year's performance – when for the first time four teams reached the quarterfinals. But it's far from a sure thing.

Portland would have to win at home against Saprissa and Dallas needs a draw at Suchitepequez in Guatemala the week of Oct. 18-20. Portland was beaten 4-2 in Costa Rica and Dallas has only scored three goals in three games. Of course, Suchitpequez has only scored two.

The New York Red Bulls (MetroStars) got to the quarterfinals for the first time in three tries with a 0-0 draw in Guatemala against Antigua GFC Tuesday. And Vancouver capped its berth in the final eight with a fourth win in as many games, a 4-1 victory over Trinidad & Tobago's Central FC on Wednesday. That, however, came at the expense of Sporting Kansas City in Group C.

Interestingly, Mexico won't have four teams in the “knockout” stage for the second time in three years and fourth time in five years. Panama's Arabe Unido already has clinched Group D over Mexico's Monterrey.

Despite often using second-choice lineups, Mexican teams qualified four teams for the quarters the first four years of the competition. They have won all eight titles since the continental club championship was reconfigured.

Stepping up

Sigi Schmid quit, or was fired, on July 24. Clint Dempsey last played on Aug. 21 because of an irregular heartbeat. And now Seattle has won three straight to climb into the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Jordan Morris has been the most notable figure in the Sounders revival, having scored three goals in their surge, hiking his season total to 12.

Morris will have to continue his form, if Seattle is to make the playoffs, now that the Sounders have announced that Dempsey's heart condition will sideline him for the remainder of the season – including the playoffs.

Concentrated wealth

The MLS' millionaires club grew a little larger in the latest list of salaries announced by the MLS Players Union.

The MLSPU specified 24 players who are guaranteed $1 million or more on its Sept. 15-dated release of its semiannual salary data, three more than on its May 15 list.

With the mid season acuqisition of Nicolas Lodeiro, Seattle joined Colorado, Los Angeles, New York City, and Toronto as clubs with three millionaire's each, and meant that 15 of the 24 seven-figure earners (63 percent) are concentrated on five of 21 teams or less than 20 percent (Atlanta's six players were listed.)

Orlando's Kaka ($7.167 million) still edges out Toronto's Sebastian Giovinco ($7.115 million) for the top spot in guaranteed compensation. They would both pay for about 138 players at the minimum guaranteed salaries at $51,500.

And Landon Donovan is not among the millionaire's club upon return his comeback, earning a paltry $456,000 for the rest of the year.

Money's worth

It's been a long time coming for the Houston Dynamo, more than three and a half years to be exact. But Mauro Manotas's three-goal performance last Saturday against Portland not only led the Dynamo to a second straight win – their first consecutive victories in a year – but also earned him Player of the Week honors.

The 21-year-old Colombian, who came to MLS last year and has spent four games on the Dynamo's USL-affiliated Rio Grande Valley team, became the first Dynamo player to claim the weekly award since Brad Davis in Week 7 of the 2013 season.

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