CONCACAF Champions League: A Look Ahead

CONCACAFCL (CONCACAF)

By JUSTIN FERGUSON

Less than four months after Monterrey’s thrilling 4-2 comeback victory in the 2013 Finals, the CONCACAF Champions League will be back in action on Tuesday night as the top club from around the federation battle for conference supremacy.

After a three-peat from Monterrey, there will definitely be a new champion in this upcoming edition of the tournament as the Mexican club failed to qualify in Liga MX—unlike the UEFA version of the Champions League, the title-winners are not guaranteed a chance to defend their crown.

The five clubs representing Major League Soccer will look to build off of last season’s tournament, which saw two American sides make the semifinals. MLS Cup champions Los Angeles Galaxy are back in the tournament, gunning to be the league’s first CCL champion since Los Angeles’s 2000 title in the old CONCACAF Champions Cup era.

The 2013-14 tournament marks the second year of the new qualifying format, where only the group winners advance to the knockout stages. The Galaxy, Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City are favorites to advance out of their respective three-team groups, but at least one MLS team will be heading home after the group stage.

The 2012 MLS Supporters Shield winners San Jose Earthquakes and 2013 Canadian champions Montreal Impact are in Group 5 with Guatemalan side Heredia. Fans should have August 7 and September 17 circled on their calendars, as those are the two dates when these two MLS sides square off.

Another team American fans will be interested in watching during the tournament is Club Tijuana of Liga MX. With a squad that boasts several American players, including Herculez Gomez, Edgar Castillo, Joe Corona and Paul Arriola, the surprise 2012 Apetura tournament champions will be looking to build off a dream Copa Libertadores campaign that ended with a tough semifinal loss against eventual champions Atletico Mineiro.

Tijuana will be in action on Tuesday in the second match of the tournament’s opening night. Fellow Mexican side Toluca will kick off the tournament with a match against Trinidad & Tobago’s New Calcedonia AIA.

Here is the schedule for this edition of the CCL:

2013-2014 CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SCHEDULE

GROUP 1
Thursday: Arabe Unido (PAN) vs. W. Connection (TNT)
August 20: W. Connection (TNT) vs. Houston Dynamo (USA)
August 27: Houston Dynamo (USA) vs. Arabe Unido (PAN)
September 19: W. Connection (TNT) vs. Arabe Unido (PAN)
September 25: Houston Dynamo (USA) vs. W. Connection (TNT)
October 24: Arabe Unido (PAN) vs. Houston Dynamo (USA)

GROUP 2
Wednesday: Real Esteli (NIC) vs. Sporting Kansas City (USA)
August 21: Real Esteli (NIC) vs. Olimpia (HON)
August 27: Olimpia (HON) vs. Sporting Kansas City (USA)
September 17: Sporting Kansas City (USA) vs. Real Esteli (NIC)
September 24: Olimpia (HON) vs. Real Esteli (NIC)
October 23: Sporting Kansas City (USA) vs. Olimpia (HON)

GROUP 3
Thursday: Valencia (HAI) vs. Herediano (CRC)
August 22: Cruz Azul (MEX) vs. Herediano (CRC)
August 28: Valencia (HAI) vs. Cruz Azul (MEX)
September 18: Herediano (CRC) vs. Valencia (HAI)
September 24: Cruz Azul (MEX) vs. Valencia (HAI)
October 22: Herediano (CRC) vs. Cruz Azul (MEX)

GROUP 4
Wednesday: Sporting San Miguelito (PAN) vs. Club America (MEX)
August 22: Sporting San Miguelito (PAN) vs. Alajuelenese (CRC)
August 29: Alajuelenese (CRC) vs. Club America (MEX)
September 17: Club America (MEX) vs. Sporting San Miguelito (PAN)
September 26: Alajuelenese (CRC) vs. Sporting San Miguelito (PAN)
October 22: Club America (MEX) vs. Alajuelenese (CRC)

GROUP 5
Wednesday: Montreal Impact (CAN) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (USA)
August 21: Heredia (GUA) vs. Montreal Impact (CAN)
August 28: Heredia (GUA) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (USA)
September 17: San Jose Earthquakes (USA) vs. Montreal Impact (CAN)
September 24: Montreal Impact (CAN) vs. Heredia (GUA)
October 23: San Jose Earthquakes (USA) vs. Heredia (GUA)

GROUP 6
Tuesday: Toluca (MEX) vs. New Calcedonia AIA (TNT)
August 22: Comunicaciones (GUA) vs. Toluca (MEX)
August 29: Comunicaciones (GUA) vs. New Calcedonia AIA (TNT)
September 18: New Calcedonia AIA (TNT) vs. Toluca (MEX)
September 25: New Calcedonia AIA (TNT) vs. Comunicaciones (GUA)
October 23: Toluca (MEX) vs. Comunicaciones (GUA)

GROUP 7
Tuesday: Luis Angel Firpo (SLV) vs. Club Tijuana (MEX)
August 20: Valencia (HON) vs. Club Tijuana (MEX)
August 28: Club Tijuana (MEX) vs. Luis Angel Firpo (SLV)
September 19: Luis Angel Firpo (SLV) vs. Valencia (HON)
September 26: Club Tijuana (MEX) vs. Valencia (HON)
October 23: Valencia (HON) vs. Luis Angel Firpo (SLV)

GROUP 8
Thursday: Isidro Metapan (SLV) vs. Cartagines (CRC)
August 20: Los Angeles Galaxy (USA) vs. Cartagines (CRC)
August 27: Cartagines (CRC) vs. Isidro Metapan (SLV)
September 18: Los Angeles Galaxy (USA) vs. Isidro Metapan (SLV)
September 25: Cartagines (CRC) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
October 24: Isidro Metapan (SLV) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)

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

34 Responses to CONCACAF Champions League: A Look Ahead

  1. David M says:

    There are actually five teams representing MLS.

  2. Bt says:

    No teams represent MLS in the CCL tourney.
    4 US based MLS teams represent USSF. Had an nasl team won the us open cup, they would be one of the 4 representing ussf.

    The cdn champion ( winner of the voyagers cup) represents the csa

    If a cdn mls team won the mls championship game, they would not be in the champions league for that win because the ussf would not have a cdn based team represent the ussf.

    Subtle but important.

    • unbeknownst says:

      It’s going to be great when a Canadian team wins the SS or MLS Cup and is not included into the CCL because they didn’t win the Canadian Championship.

      • Mister JC says:

        It is horrible that such a possibilty can even exist. I may not be aware of any current rules regarding this issue, but the league would be wise to account for this scenario in a fair and competitive manner…

        • Jake says:

          They’ll write the rule they want when this happens. It could happen this year with Montreal or Vancouver. SS, MLS Cup, or Runner-up could all happen for either of those teams.

          • crossmlk says:

            Why would US Soccer use it’s spots for a Canadian team no matter what they won? The format of the CCL allows for one Canadian team (they are free to determine how they select that team) and four American teams. If Canada wants more spots they need to take that up with CONCACAF not the MLS.

  3. Steven C says:

    It’ll be fun to see Club Tijuana in the competition this year as my adopted Liga MX team.

    No offense to TFC supporters, but maybe Montreal can make it out of the group stage this time around? It’d be nice to see all 5 MLS teams advance.

    • zztoppppp says:

      That would be impossible as only one team advances from each group. It will have to be either San Jose or Montreal.

      • Steven C says:

        Sorry. I forgot about that. Should’ve remembered RSL getting bounced last year after they finished 2nd in their group.

        • Jake says:

          Also, Toronto made it out of the group stage and then beat LA a couple years ago before getting crushed in the next round.

    • BWHOLL says:

      SJ and MTL in same group. Only 4 MLS teams can advance

  4. DC Josh says:

    Interesting to note that MLS has 5 representatives and Liga MX only has 4.

    • Eurosnob says:

      As Bt stated earlier, the teams represent their national soccer federations (e.g. US and Mexico have 4 teams each, Canada has 1).

      • Jake says:

        Technically that’s correct, but you can bet that if any of the 5 does anything in the tournament, MLS will claim credit (as they should). There are 5 teams from MLS in the tournament even if the word “represent” isn’t correct.

  5. Z says:

    No Saprissa this year either. ¿Qué paso?

    • David Crowther says:

      Saprissa sold most of it’s veteran starters to Europe (and MLS in the case of Jairo Arrieta) over the past 2 to 3 years and instead of bringing in experienced replacements, preferred to develop their younger players who had formed the base of the Costa Rican teams that did so well at the 2009 and 2011 U20 World Cups. Youthful mistakes and injuries hurt them in key games last season, keeping them out of the CCL, But Saprissa are looking very impressive this preseason. They already won the domestic cup competition this past Sunday and put on a very impressive performance against a full strength Fulham in a friendly a couple of weeks ago. Players to watch for in coming years are playmaker Diego Estrada, winger Diego Madrigal, and DMF Yeltsin Tejeda (who started for the Ticos in the Gold Cup). Unfortunately, without Saprissa, I don’t expect much from the 3 Tico clubs that did qualify to the CCL this year. They have all also lost too many key players to overseas transfers.

  6. Kiphino says:

    Where’s Seattle? I thought Dempsy was coming to Seattle so he could play in the CCL.

    • Jack says:

      LA won the MLS Cup, Sporting won the Open Cup, San Jose won the Supporters Shield, and Houston were MLS Cup Runners Up. Since Seattle didnt win those three trophies and didnt make the MLS Cup finals, they don’t qualify. Seattle will have to wait until next year if they want to be in it (which I personally believe they will. Seattle is now the most talented MLS team.)

      • RAMONE says:

        One of those doors is already closed for Seattle for 2014 (USOC, they are already out). While anything is possible in MLS (parity and all), even when Beckham and Henry came into the league it didn’t vault those teams into shoo ins for Supporters Shield or making the Cup final game. Yes, they have the benefit of having games in hand, but they are going to have to win, and win very frequently to vault into Supporters Shield position with a schedule that is mostly top half teams. Anyone could win a couple playoff series, but it hasn’t exactly been Sigi’s forte. Most talented (particularly with a late season big signing) isn’t a guarantee of instant success. But we will see.

      • Kiphino says:

        My comment was meant to be a joke.

  7. Sebowski says:

    Are home teams listed first or second?

  8. Beto says:

    Hoping for a LAG vs Tijuana match up at some point, a Cruz Azul vs America rematch would be cool too.. Maybe a SKC vs Club America series … most of all a non all-ligamx final

  9. soccerhorn says:

    The cards will be forever stacked against MLS clubs getting into the late rounds. All the knockout rounds take place in March and April, when MLS clubs are just coming out of camp, while the Liga MX sides are in mid-season form. It is what it is.

    • unbeknownst says:

      It’d be great if CONCACAF moved the group games to March and April, and moved the Quarterfinals to start in late August, with the Semifinals in mid September, and the finals in early October.

  10. Dave says:

    Who is televising the CONCACAF Champions League this year? Is it still Fox? Also, how come those matches always look so empty?

    • Chupacabra says:

      Fox Soccer Plus is broadcasting Montreal/SJ and Real Esteli/KC on Weds. Beyond that I have no idea since FSC is getting folded into FS1 and I have no idea what the future of Fox Soccer Plus is, although they’re still shilling subscriptions for it even with its dwindling live match broadcasts.

  11. kevin says:

    Any one notice how the concacaf redrew the groups where the gals were draw with Cruz azul and xolos with houston

    • unbeknownst says:

      Yeah, like two months ago.

    • Edwin in LA says:

      What are you talking about? Ever since they changed the format last year to include all 24 teams in the group stage but with 3 teams per group…they said that no MLS US based team would be grouped together with Mexican clubs with the Canadian team being able to land on a group with EITHER a US or Mexico team…

  12. BDWG81 says:

    I love that there are 8 groups and 5 MLS teams, and they couldn’t do a draw that had the 5 MLS teams in different groups? No groups have multiple LigaMX teams…BS I say!