With this coming out the other day, I figured it may be time for a diversion to see how things stack up for D.C. United.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">So CONCACAF Champions League Draw will be on June 1st at The W Hotel on South Beach <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SCCL?src=hash">#SCCL</a></p>— Juan Arango (@JuanG_Arango) <a href="https://twitter.com/JuanG_Arango/status/598232602252816390">May 12, 2015</a></blockquote>
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What's the CONCACAF Champions League you ask? Well it's like the one everyone follows religiously for UEFA in Europe, only for teams in North and Central America. 24 teams, eight groups of three playing each other, before two-leg series starting in the quarterfinals. The rules changed for the 2012-13 tournament so that the Liga MX and MLS teams could not play one another in group play,
so the MLS teams couldn't get eliminated early, ensuring Mexico and US clubs likely played one another in the quarterfinals and beyond, such as the Montreal Impact and Club America did recently.
Currently, the Black and Red are in Pot B, because they did not win the Supporters' Shield or MLS Cup. This means they are in the same pot with the Canadian entry again this year (the Vancouver Whitecaps). Tossing out other MLS teams (Seattle Sounders, Los Angeles Galaxy) as well as Liga MX teams (defending Champions Club America and Tigres so far), here's what we know at the moment:
Pot A: The one non-MLS/Liga team that is has been penciled in so far is Comunicaciones from Guatemala. They aren't entirely a slouch, as it took a game against America, in Azteca, in the last game of the Group for them to be eliminated last year. For the others?
- Costa Rica: Alajuelense has to win the Verano to get into Pot A. If they don't, Saprissa takes that spot.
- Honduras: If Olimpia does not win the Clausura tournament (beginning this week), Motagua is in Pot A.
- Panama: The Clausura Champion will likely get it (tournament begins Friday). Sporting San Miguelito finished first in both split seasons, but lost in the Apertura playoffs. Arabe Unido and Plaza Amador have a chance to be the opponent also. If none of those teams can take the Clausura, San Francisco F.C. will get the spot in Pot B, with the Clausura Champion in Pot C.
Pot C: This depends on a few more variables, mainly that second teams in an association can't play one another. Nevertheless, the options as they lie before the draw:
- Belize: Belmopan Bandits(!) won the first half of the season and are in the second leg of the final against Verdes FC (playing this weekend), with a goal advantage to boot. Whomever wins that gets the spot basically. Belize has had problems getting a prepared stadium even by CONCACAF standards, so they may even lose that spot.
- El Salvador: Metapan won the Apertura (and is in Group B) and is in the Clausura tournament which if they win, puts Santa Tecla in the second spot. If they don't, whomever comes out of the tournament likely gets that spot.
- Guatemala: If Comunicaciones wins the Clausura (which is possible at this point), it will likely be Municipal, where former D.C. player Carlos Ruiz is these days.
- Nicaragua: Walter Ferretti won the first half of the season and the second half of the season finishes this week with them holding a one point lead over Real Esteli.
- Panama: See above.
- Caribbean: Three teams from the CFU Club Championship gets those spots. The semifinals begin next week, with Trinidad and Tobago represented twice (W Connection and Central FC), Jamaica's entry in Montego Bay United, and Don Bosco Football Club, from Haiti.
Obviously, lots of things can happen between now and actual games and such, like fields ruled unplayable or whatever but still, can never start too early in terms of checking out the opposition, filling out your brackets, etc.