In the Box: Champions Cup


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Sports fans love underdogs. 

We'll if you do, Portmore United of Jamaica would love to enlist you as a supporter this Wednesday night.

The provincial squad from Jamaica will be taking on giants of Mexican Football, Club America, at Minute Maid Park at 8:30 p.m.

The match -- considered a home game for the Jamaicans -- is the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup with the overall winner going to the world club championships in Japan next December.

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For the young Jamaican squad not being overawed will be important.

"I've known Club America and their players," said Portmore United striker Onandi Lowe. "Our players are focused and we will give it our best shot."

It is clear that if an upset is in the making it would be the greatest international victory ever for Portmore United, who arrived in Houston this past Sunday.

Standing in their way are big name Mexican league stars like Claudio Lopez, Kleber, Duilio Davino and Pavel Pardo who perform regularly in front of large crowds in Mexican League play.

"They have more experience than us. We have pace and individual skill. We know they have great individual players," adds Lowe.

Lowe who is the main threat up front for Portmore United may not be a stranger to U.S. fans having played in Major League Soccer with the Kansas City Wizards and in England with Coventry City. Despite the monstrous task in front of his club he remains positive.

"To go up against a lion like this makes us nervous. Yet the football is round and we will try to force them out of their game. We're going into the match to win regardless of the name of the club."

Breaking the Club America rhythm will be a key for Portmore United who knows they might even benefit from the 'Eagles' possibly looking ahead to Saturday when they take on Chivas in one of the great rivalries in Mexican soccer.

Club America, who has won the title on four occasions second only to Cruz Azul, who have won it five times.

This past weekend they defeated Atlas in Mexican League play 2-1 on a 90th minute goal from defender Duilio Davino who has performed over the years for the Mexican National team. They currently are third in Group 1 behind Tecos and Necaxa.

Club America will play Wednesday and train through Friday with the dual task of getting a result in the Champions Cup and defeating their arch rivals in Chivas this weekend.

For a team with the history of Club America the CONCACAF Champions Cup provides an opportunity to get to the World Club Championships and test the waters against squads like Liverpool of England and Sao Paulo of Brazil who are the defending champions.

Club America will look to repeat the success of Saprissa of Costa Rica who defeated UNAM Pumas last year to go to Japan. They ended up a more than respectable third behind giant names like Sao Paulo and Liverpool. The prestige and financial gains are undeniable.

The first ever soccer game played at Minute Maid Park this Wednesday should be intriguing and is the first step in the potential of playing against the top clubs in the world from Europe and South America.

Davis is a nationally recognized broadcaster for HDNET where he partners up with former U.S. National Team defender Marcelo Balboa. He was one of the lead voices for ESPN during the 2002 World Cup and has called major international soccer matches for the Fox Network as well.  He is a weekly columnist for the Houston Chronicle and hosts the "Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis" radio show presented by Soccer 4 ALL on ESPN 790 AM every Wednesday at 9 p.m.  Davis played soccer professionally for the Houston Dynamos where he was a league all star selection and team captain.

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