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Sounders Draw Marathon In CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage

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The Sounders will need to beat Marathon and an undetermined Caribbean team in the CCL group stage to return to the quarterfinals.
The Sounders will need to beat Marathon and an undetermined Caribbean team in the CCL group stage to return to the quarterfinals.

If the Seattle Sounders are to advance to the knockout stage of a second straight CONCACAF Champions League, they will have to win a group that includes Honduran power Marathon and an undetermined team from the Caribbean, according to Tuesday's draw. The group's final team will be the winner of the Caribbean championship, who will be one of the Puerto Rico Islanders, Antigua Barracuda FC, W Connection and Caledonia AIA of Trinidad.

The Sounders' main threat should be Marathon, one of Central America's most decorated teams. Marathon finished the most recent campaign as the third best team in the Honduran Primera Division, going 8-3-7 with a +6 goal difference. The Sounders should be somewhat familiar with Marathon, as the two teams played one another in the 2010-11 CCL group stage. Each team won their home game, with the Sounders outscoring Marathon 3-2 on aggregate. Neither team ultimately qualified for the knockout stage that year.

The Puerto Rico Islanders, though, could prove to be a tricky foe, too. They are currently the top team in the NASL, compiling a 5-2-2 record and a +10 goal difference. They are led by forward David Foley, who is second in the NASL with five goals. Prior to joining the Islanders, he had spent much of his career with England's Hartlepool United.

The group stage starts on July 31-Aug. 2 and concludes on Oct. 23-25. The exact schedule is expected to be released in two weeks. There were two big changes in this year's tournament: 1. Only the group stage winners advance; 2. the knockout stage will be seeded by group stage record. The knockout stage starts on March 5.

Groups after the jump

Group 1
Santos Laguna (MEX)
Toronto FC (CAN)
Aguila (SLV)

Group 2
Herediano (CRC)
Real Salt Lake (USA)
Tauro FC (PAN)

Group 3
Olimpia (HON)
Houston Dynamo (USA)
FAS (SLV)

Group 4
Seattle Sounders FC (USA)
Marathon (HON)
Caribbean 1

Group 5
LA Galaxy (USA)
Metapan (SLV)
Caribbean 3

Group 6
Tigres UANL (MEX)
Alajuelense (CRC)
Real Esteli (NIC)

Group 7
Chorillo (PAN)
Monterrey (MEX)
Municipal (GUA)

Group 8
Xelaju (GUA)
Chivas de Guadalajara (MEX)
Caribbean 2