Changes To CONCACAF Champions League Structure

Changes To CONCACAF Champions League Structure

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On January 12, 2012
  • 2012/13 CCL

Big time changes are ahead for the CONCACAF Champions League. A change that will certainly help out a couple MLS sides this summer.

Starting this summer, the two-leg preliminary round – in which 16 teams would face off in a home-and-home series – has been eliminated. Instead, all 24 teams in the event will be drawn straight into the group stage. Each of the eight groups will have three teams, and MLS and Mexican sides can’t be drawn into the same group.

Each group winner will then advance to the quarterfinals, which proceed unchanged from previous versions of the event.

The teams will be distributed into three categories for purposes of the draw:

Category 1:  Mexico 1 & 2, USA 1 & 2, Costa Rica 1, Guatemala 1, Honduras 1, Panama 1

Category 2:  Mexico 3 & 4, USA 3 & 4, Canada 1, Costa Rica 2, El Salvador 1, Honduras 2

Category 3:  Belize 1 (pending approval of suitable stadium), El Salvador 2, Guatemala 2, Nicaragua 1, Panama 2, Caribbean Football Union 1, 2 & 3

Teams from the same country can’t be drawn into the same group, though thanks to the pan-nationalism of MLS, there is a 75 percent chance that Canada’s CCL representative will be drawn into a group with one of its MLS brethren.

The new group stage comprises 48 matches. It will begin at the end of July and run through mid-October.

The four US representatives have already been decided, with the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders in Category 1 and the Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake in Category 2. The winner of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship — contested between Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact, the Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Edmonton of the NASL — could possibly add a fifth MLS club to the party.

  • Chester

    So is there a perk to being in category 1 rather than category 2? Or is winning the US Open Cup just as good as winning the MLS Cup to get into the CCL now?

    • Good question. That’s something to be debated for sure now.