While I added story lines for the UEFA Champions League yesterday (and their games continue today), I need to plug our MLS teams’ participation in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) that is also being played today. Similar in shape and concept to UEFA Champions League (and its former Europe Cup), CONCACAF has been crowning club champions in its region since 1962. The current form, CCL, was inaugurated in the 2008-2009 season.
The CCL features the top 24 club teams from CONCACAF’s three sub-regions: North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The competition is played in two stages — the Group Stage (8 groups of 3) and the Championship Round (featuring quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals). The 8 winners of the groups advance to the quarterfinals. They are seeded 1-8 based on points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie). One plays 8 in the quarters, 4v5, 3v6, etc. Semifinal pairings are determined with the winner of 1v8 playing the winner of 4v5 and 3v6 winner playing 2v7.
Teams are assigned to the Groups by draw. Teams from the U.S. and Mexico cannot be drawn in the same group as well as two teams from the same country (unless one of them is a wild card entry). I presume the former rule is to ensure competitive balance for the later rounds since only one team from each group advances.
Atlante won the inaugural title in 2009 beating fellow Mexican side Cruz Azul 2-0 on aggregate. A year later, Pachuca defeated Cruz Azul for the crown on the away-goals rule (if aggregate goals are tied after home and away, the team that scored the most away goals is the winner). Monterrey has captured the last two editions, overcoming Real Salt Lake (2011) and Santos (2012) 3-2 on aggregate both times. No MLS team has won the title to date.
The winner of the CCL qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup. Barcelona is the reigning Cup holder.
There are 5 MLS teams currently participating in the CCL. Toronto is in Group 1 and has played 2 games, winning one and losing another. RSL is tied atop Group 2 with Herediano, 6 points each after two matches. Our hometown Dynamo is tied atop Group 3 with Olimpia, each with 4 points. The Sounders top Group 4 with 6 points after 2 matches and the Galaxy are atop Group 5 with 6 points after two. Here are the complete standings (to date) and the tiebreaker rules courtesy of the Houston Dynamo.
Here is the website for the CCL. It has the tables, schedules, highlights, etc. What is great about the CCL is that you can stream it for free. Click here to register for free streaming. Just add an account. Tonight, you can watch the Galaxy play the Puerto Rico Islanders (7:00 pm) and the Sounders playing the Honduran squad Marathan (9:00 pm). Also, for Santos fans, they kickoff the same time as the Sounders against Aguila. Tomorrow night, the Dynamo host FAS from El Salvador in a big game. FAS has not registered a point so this is a game the Dynamo need to grab 3. As we are nearing the end of Group stage, pay attention and root for all of our MLS teams to advance to the next round.