Tough roads lie ahead for MLS clubs as CCL schedule is released

CONCACAF Champions League Logo (CONCACAF)

By DAN KARELL

The quest for Major League Soccer’s first CONCACAF Champions League title won’t be an easy one, and after Monday’s release of the 2013/2014 Champions League group stage schedules, it is that much more clear just how tough that quest will be.

At first glance, the San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City will have the toughest road to the knockout rounds, as both teams start with two road matches before returning with two home legs. The Earthquakes, in Group 5, visit the Montreal Impact on August 7 before traveling to CD Heredia in Guatamala on August 28. The latter game is wedged in the middle of a week where the Earthquakes face FC Dallas and the LA Galaxy.

The veteran Galaxy side open their Champions League campaign with two games at home before hitting the road, but their toughest stretch will be matches at home against Isidro Metapan and a visit to Cartagines in Costa Rica, with the Galaxy being forced to play five times in 15 days.

Here’s a closer look at each MLS team’s CCL Group Stage schedule.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Group 2)

Aug. 7th- at Real Esteli (10pm)

Aug. 27th- at CD Olimpia (10pm)

Sept. 17th- vs. Real Esteli

Oct. 23rd- vs. CD Olimpia

HOUSTON DYNAMO (Group 1)

Aug. 20th- at W Connection (8pm)

Aug. 27th- vs. Arabe Unido (8pm)

Sept. 25th- vs. W Connection (8pm)

Oct. 24th- at Arabe Unido (8pm)

MONTREAL IMPACT (Group 5)

Aug. 7th- vs. San Jose Earthquakes (8pm)

Aug. 21st- at CD Heredia (10pm)

Sept. 17th- at San Jose Earthquakes (10pm)

Sept. 25th- vs. CD Heredia (8pm)

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Group 5)

Aug. 7th- at Montreal Impact (8pm)

Aug. 28th- at CD Heredia (10pm)

Sept. 17th- vs. Montreal Impact (10pm)

Oct. 23rd- vs. CD Heredia (10pm)

LOS ANGELES GALAXY (Group 8)

Aug. 20th- vs. Cartagines (10pm)

Sept. 18th- vs. Isidro Metapan (10pm)

Sept. 25th- at Cartagines (10pm)

Oct. 24th- at Isidro Metapan (10pm)

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What do you think of the schedule? Who do you see having the toughest road to the knockout round?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in CONCACAF Champions League, Major League Soccer, MLS- Houston Dynamo, MLS- LA Galaxy, MLS- Montreal Impact, MLS- San Jose Earthquakes, MLS- Sporting Kansas City. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Tough roads lie ahead for MLS clubs as CCL schedule is released

  1. Matty says:

    LA should do well, and I think the Impact will be a tough out for anyone. SKC gets it together, way to much talent not to impress in this group.

  2. Reboot says:

    What is the format if a Canadian club wins the Supporter’s Shield, or plays in the MLS cup? Does another stateside team make it or do they have two Canadian teams? Surely not, right?

    • JS says:

      Canadian teams cannot qualify through MLS: link to soundersfc.com

      • Gnarls says:

        Seems completely unfair for the Canadians. If US based teams have three routes to CCL, so should the canucks.

        • Jubez says:

          We have 4 professional teams. Winning the Canadian Championships allows for a Canadian team to enter the tourney. Until Canada more than doubles the number of teams competing in the Canadian Championships, it would be ridiculous for there to be another way for a Canadian team t ente the tourney.

          • Gnarls says:

            Still seems arbitrary since MLS is one league containing teams from two countries. What if – and this is incredibly far-fetched and hypothetical – Vancouver goes on to win the SS and MLS Cup. They lost the Canadian Championship, so no CCL for them. That’s just crazy.

        • AzTeXan says:

          Winning the Canadian Championship is much easier than winning the USOC, making MLS Cup or winning the Shield. Canada will have their one CCL spot and they will like it.

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          It is odd that MLS, nominally North American, is strictly USA for quali purposes. Canada does have their own tourney but in theory a Canadian team could win SS or MLS — stretch to date, but we’re talking theory — and miss out on CCL because they lose Canada.

          But I can’t see this being fixed unless Canada either starts fielding more teams or shows better more routinely. If every year was like the odd Montreal or TFC run, they might give them two teams and you could basically take the Canada finalists, or the best MLS finisher from Canada.

          • Brain Guy says:

            Maybe the fairest way would be to treat all MLS teams equally, regardless of which country they’re in. I don’t think Welsh teams get any separate route to qualify for the Champions League or the Europa League.

            • The Imperative Voice says:

              Actually, the Welsh, with their own pyramid capped by the Welsh Premier League, qualify teams 1-3 of the Welsh PL plus a 4th Welsh Cup winner (if it’s not in the top 3 already). Team 1 goes to UEFA CL and the rest go to Europa.

              Wales inconsistently has either allowed or not allowed the English teams to play in the Welsh Cup. In ’11-’12 a few Conference teams accepted invites.

              This is independent of whether Cardiff, Swansea, Wrexham, etc. get a spot through England. They’ve actually had a very similar debate in both directions about whether the “English” teams must qualify through Wales or can take an English spot……which Swansea finally put in question by winning the FA Cup. They in fact have been put in Europa League this season.

              Per that you could argue that a Canadian team that gets one of the non-USOC places should go to CCL as one of “our” slots. Or MLS’ slots if you want to be PC.

  3. Rory says:

    I prefer the old groups of four system, when MLS clubs could face Mexican clubs before the knockouts. I think we need that to help MLS owners see need for improvement and to really challenge each club. Not that some of the other teams aren’t tough, but losses to Mexican clubs sting more

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      If you look at the history MLS was strongest and won their titles when it was a limited entry straight knockout. It used to be like 1-2 teams per country and so if one team knocks out the Mexican side it was over. Now there are 3 others that will step up. Which lowers our odds. I think we struggle with the MLS home stretch overlapping the CCL group home stretch, and then the spring training overlapping the early rounds of knockout.

  4. Dan says:

    This absolutely ridiculous. The Galaxy playing 5 times in 15 days, that is unheard of! The CCL teams should get bye weeks if that much congestion occurs, MLS scheduling is terrible

    • TimbersGary says:

      Yes, absolutely unheard of!!! I mean, I’d have to go all the way back to last month to find an example to the contrary (Timbers, 6/12, 6/15, 6/19, 6/23, 6/26; W-W-D-W-W for what it’s worth).

      That’s not to say it’s not a tough deal–clearly it is–but it’s certainly not unheard of.

  5. Matt says:

    With the lack of salaray cap restrictions and a couple owners with big pockets, could the first American winner of the CCL actually come from one of the lower divisions? It seems like a stretch now but who knows who the Cosmos may land.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      There needs to be a buyer and a seller and even if they have money and no limits you are talking about trying to induce world class players to willingly sign up for a low division team whose regular schedule will be almost an insult, and might risk their international callups. You’d have to be a serious mercenary to do that. We’re talking beyond the type people who sign in Qatar cause that’s at least a first division.

      Then you’d have to afford the salary with a regular season that will attract a modest amount of fans, as well as USOC. I can’t imagine fans would care unless the players were high quality and even then they wouldn’t care except CCL. How is that sustainable? I understand “deep pockets” but if the attendance does not support the salaries then you will steadily drain cash and at some point the owners will say uncle.

      To me it sounds like Pompey or similar English teams that got too big for their britches on the apparent theory that success would make it somehow affordable. Pompey went into administration and is back in League Two.

      You wonder if the Cosmos advocates know the history of not the glory years but being spun off by Warner, losing attendance, losing TV, selling off players they could no longer afford. It’s like time stopped with Pele’s retirement in 1977 and you don’t get to point out how much of this depended on him in some sort of SuperBeckham way.

      • Supa says:

        You have to think “world wide”. Shirt/Jersey sales, eyeballs on the web, friendly matches. There is a HUGE revenue stream availible to the Cosmos.

  6. blokhin says:

    the ending is already scripted:

    Two Mexican teams will play in the final
    They got there by beating up on two American teams
    who got there by winning hard-fought 1/4 final games
    while the other two American teams either failed to get out of the group or completely laid an egg in the 1/4 finals

    • Gnarls says:

      I wouldn’t bet against it, but you must admit MLS teams are improving while, I would argue, Mexican teams have plateaued. It’s only a matter of time before an MLS team is in the final (again) and actually wins.