Real Salt Lake restarts title quest in return to CONCACAF Champions League

RSL (Getty Images)

Real Salt Lake has waited 15 long months to get back to the CONCACAF Champions League, but that night has finally arrived.

With the loss to Monterrey in the 2010-11 CCL final still stinging, RSL kicks off a new regional campaign Tuesday night with the opening of the new-look tournament against Herediano in Costa Rica (10 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel). 

One of five MLS teams taking part in the 2012-13 CCL, RSL will be the first to experience the pressure of playing in the new format. With eight groups of three and only the group winners advancing after four group games — as opposed to the top two teams in each of four groups advancing after six games — the stakes are that much higher with every match.

After a two-month break following capturing the Costa Rican Torneo de Verano season title, Herediano, the former club of Columbus Crew striker Olman Vargas, just returned to play this past week, so RSL should have a bit of a fitness advantage to combat the home-field edge.

Two of the other MLS teams in the tournament, Toronto FC and Seattle, kick off their campaigns in the coming two days against Salvadoran side Aguila and Trinidadian side Caledonia, respectively, while Houston and Los Angeles each have another three weeks before commencing tournament play.

Here are the eight groups in this year's CCL:

2012-2013 CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

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)
Caledonia AIA (TNT)

GROUP 5
LA Galaxy (USA)

Metapan (SLV)
Puerto Rico Islanders (PRC)

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)
W Connection (TNT)

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Excited for the return of the CONCACAF Champions League? Are you a fan of the new format? Which MLS team do you think will have the most success in the tournament? Is this the season that an MLS team wins it all, or will a Mexican club reign supreme again?

Share your thoughts below.

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8 Responses to Real Salt Lake restarts title quest in return to CONCACAF Champions League

  1. chris says:

    I hope i get see Luis Gil play tonight

  2. beto says:

    i really like the changes made to the format and I think that all of MLS teams except TFC have a very good shot at winning their groups.

  3. Charles says:

    I like and dislike the changes. Obviously it gives the Sounders a disadvantage, in that over more games, they have made it through to the knockout stage.

    But there are so many games already. It hurts the team and quite frankly too many games for the fans too. This week, Thursday, Sunday and LH USOC midweek next week.

  4. Gnarls says:

    I like the new format because I want the CCL to remain financially stable and thrive. The best way to do so is to minimize travel as much as possible, which is difficult in a continental tournament.

    I’m always thoroughly baffled by these teams from tiny Central America towns (e.g. Aguila, Real Esteli) that manage to load 30 guys on a plane and fly thousands of miles several times during the competition. I would love to see CCL’s financial documents, just out of sheer curiosity.

    Anyway, I love the competition and hope these little teams (and MLS teams) continue to participate and make this tourney bigger and better.

  5. Georg says:

    Let’s do this RSL.

  6. JRP says:

    Wasn’t he subbed out Fri for poor play?

  7. DCLee says:

    It is like this for any successful football team in the league though anywhere in the world. the more you win the more you play.

    Good luck to RSL tonight and all the MLS competition in the CCL.

  8. G says:

    hey..im kinda new to following this tournament. can someone explain why the final is in April and not at the end of this season?