- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On August 5, 2011
- 0 Comments
- 2011/12 CCL
The 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League groups are all set. The play-in round is over after last night and we can now shift focus to what the five Major League Soccer sides need to do to advance out of their respective groups.
For the most part we should hope to see at least one, if not two MLS sides advance out of the group stage. It happened for the league last year as both Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew fund themselves in the knockout round.
Here’s how each group stacks up:
LA Galaxy (USA)
Alajuelense (Costa Rica)
This could be either a very tough group or a very simple one to figure out. We know the Galaxy have been strong this season in MLS but their play outside of the league in recent years hasn’t been so good. Going to Morelia won’t be easy for any club but I think these other three have to bank on how poorly Morelia has played on the road in CONCACAF play over the last couple years. The big wildcard in this group for me is Alajuelense. They’re a traditional Costa Rican powerhouse club but has seen some recent changes over the last few months. Still, for the Galaxy they have three extremely tough road trips ahead of them in Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras.
This group feels very wide open to me and I would not be shocked one way or another about where each side would finish here. LA has the talent to win it but their depth concerns me still, same with their willingness to take this tournament serious.
Colorado Rapids (USA)
Real Espana (Honduras)
Santos Laguna (Mexico)
Isidro Metapan (El Salvador)
The Rapids come into this tournament with some consistency issues and some questions surrounding their depth. They’ll get at least two teams that they should get wins at home against as altitude will likely play a factor in this group. Still saying that Real Espana also has a tough venue to play in. Santos Laguna could be an interesting team to watch as they’ve looked pretty solid so far in FMF play. They’ll easily be the toughest side in this group to deal with but MLS teams have done fairly well against them before (Columbus beat them 1-0 at Crew Stadium last year).
Pumas UNAM (Mexico)
FC Dallas (USA)
Toronto FC (Canada)
A very open group here with two MLS sides. Toronto remains a total wild card to me as I believe they’re going to throw all their chips into this tournament since their MLS playoff hopes are dashing away quicker than most clubs. Dallas certainly has the depth and quality to content but injuries are piling up for Schellas Hyndman’s team. Thankfully for Dallas they have their toughest match first (at Pumas), and most of their home games at towards the end of the schedule in the group round (three of the last four games are at Pizza Hut Park).
Both will have to content with Pumas here, which was easily the toughest draw for any MLS side. Pumas has been playing extremely well in recent games and are the reigning Mexican champions.
Tauro will be pretty tricky, just like all Central American teams are. Thankfully both Dallas and Toronto were able to navigate their play-in round games in Central America, so they at least know what to expect now in the group phase when it comes to games in that area.
Seattle Sounders (USA)
Herediano (Costa Rica)
Some are calling this the weakest group, which should be good for Seattle. We know Monterrey is the defending champions and will look good to get out of this group. Seattle has the quality and the talent to do well in this tournament and at least they have some experience to play with here as they now know what to expect against international teams.
Herediano has little experience in games like this and will likely just play the “happy-to-be-here” card throughout the stage. Comunicaciones on the other end is a quality side from Guatemala and have won a ridiculous amount of league titles there but I can’t imagine they’ll be a big contender in this group.