Houston takes a big step toward Champions League elimination rounds

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CONCACAF officials shrunk the group play element of their Champions League tournament this year – mercifully so for most teams, who found the travel taxing and the financial reward minimal for group play matches that rarely sell well for anyone.

Mexican clubs, with deeper rosters, could better withstand the hit of six group play contests smack in the middle of a long, hot summer. MLS clubs sometimes struggled to deal with the extra matches, however, their rosters quite stretched.

The other side of that equation is that points are precious in the three-team groups (which means just four group play matches), and one bad performance could leave a club’s chances of advancement on the skids.

That’s why Houston’s 0-0 draw with W Connection down in Trinidad on Tuesday night is so important. First, the Trinidadians are probably out, now with just one point from two matches, including one at home. That means it looks like a fight in Group 1 between Houston and Panama’s Arabe Unido.

Houston manager Dominic Kinnear and his club may not be quite satisfied with the draw, but they won’t be unhappy, either, especially considering the Dynamo lineup was fairly heavy with reservists. Houston now has two of its three remaining group stage matches at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.