- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On August 26, 2008
- 2 Comments
- CCL Preview, CONCACAF, CONCACAF Champions League
No more than five months after the previous regional tournament concluded, a new format kicks off tonight. Yup, the CONCACAF Champions League is getting under way and will not officially put and end to the CONCACAF Champions Cup and many other previous tournaments.
I’ve said before that I love this new format and have really been calling for something similar to this for a few years now in CONCACAF. I know some out there think the MLS clubs should just try to be included in some South American tournaments, and while that would be cool I think the idea of being the regions best club team still has a bit of a meaning to it.
There will be some that think its trying to be too much like UEFA Champions League and to a degree they are right. But at the end of the day this format will work ten or 20 times better than the previous formats. Why? More games, more clubs and more potential rivalries if you will. The little clubs from the small islands will want to step up their game a bit more against the big boys of Mexico and the US.
So this time around we have four clubs going for it all here. The same four that were in the North American SuperLiga a month ago. Yeah, aside from getting into the taxing part of the scheduling, two of these clubs have preliminary games tonight while the other two are safely in group play already.
How will things go for the MLS clubs? Let’s see.
Chivas USA vs. Tauro (Panama)
First leg: Aug. 26, Panama City, Panama
Second leg: Sept. 2, Home Depot Center
Let’s just go ahead and say it. Chivas doesn’t need these extra games. Sure they would be nice to win but seeing the American Goats on the road in a year that sees them in over the heads due to the amount of injuries they’ve accumulated just seems wrong. They may have enough to upend Tauro, the winningest club in Panama’s top division. They will have to do so on the road tonight. That won’t be too easy either. A draw or even a win on the road tonight would be wonderful but I question whether or not Preki’s club has enough gas in the tank at all right now as it is for the MLS season, much less the CCL.
If they win they head into a group with Mexico’s Santos Laguna, Guatemala’s Municipal and a preliminary-round victor between Costa Rica’s Alajuelense and the Puerto Rico Islanders from USL. Not a group I’d want to be in but Chivas could see some success there if they make it.
New England vs. Joe Public (Trinidad & Tobago)
First leg: Aug. 26, Trinidad
Second leg: Sept. 2, Gillette Stadium
On paper the Revs clearly have the better side but have to be careful tonight in Trinidad. Joe Public is owned by FIFA’s Jack Warner, so you can bet your backside on them being geared up for this event. New England is sending the same bunch tonight that was in Toronto on Saturday. You’d think they’d send all their A-team but I can bet that Steve Nicol is carefully navigating his way through these next two months if they do advance. I think they will come out of the match tonight with a draw but it won’t be easy. They should dominate next week at home though.
Should the advance they will be in a group with Honduras’ Olimpia, Mexico’s Atlante and the winner between Montreal Impact and Nicaragua’s Real Esteli. A nightmare group if you ask me. Olimpia and Atlante would not be fun road matches in the middle of a playoff race.
Other preliminary-round matches:
(First leg, Aug. 26-28; second leg Sept. 2-4)
Deportivo Jalapa (Guatemala) vs. San Francisco (Panama)
LD Alajuelense (Costa Rica) vs. Puerto Rico Islanders
Cruz Azul (Mexico) vs. Hankook Verdes (Belize)
Harbour View (Jamaica) vs. UNAM Pumas (Mexico)
Montreal Impact (Canada) vs. Real Esteli (Nicaragua)
Metapán (El Salvador) vs. Marathón (Honduras)
Here is a breakdown of the Groups in the tournament:
Group A: D.C. United, Deportivo Saprissa, Winner of Cruz Azul/Verdes, Winner of Metapan/Marathon
Group B: Houston Dynamo, Luis Angel Firpo, Winner of Harbor View/Pumas, Winner of Deportivo Jalapa/San Francisco
Group C: Atlante, Olimpia, Winner of Joe Public/New England, Winner of Montreal/Real Esteli
Group D: Santos Laguna, CD Municipal, Winner of Chivas USA/Tauro, Winner of Alajuense/Puerto Rico Islanders.
What do you all see out of this tournament from the MLS clubs? Think New England and Chivas will have problems tonight? Post your predictions below.