June 11, 2008

CONCACAF Champions League play-in round draw

Sign me up for this. This sounds FREAKING AWESOME.

I mean, you get 4 MLS teams, 4 Mexican teams, 1 (maybe TWO) USL First Division teams and a handful from the Caribbean and Central America and what you get is WIN.

The preliminary round draw is now set, with the 8 winners moving through to play the 8 teams who already qualify for the group stage.

Atlante and Santos Laguna are through to the group stage courtesy of winning the last two Mexican League titles, D.C. United and Houston are through for winning the last MLS Cup and MLS Supporters' Shield, respectively. Saprissa is through after winning the last 2 Costa Rican titles, Firpo is through after winning the last two El Salvador titles, and the last two automatic group stage berths are up for grabs between:

Marathon and Olimpia from Honduras
Jalapa and Municipal from Guatemala

The last two berths will be decided by playoffs.

So here's the preliminary round, drawn earlier today:

New England Revolution (USA) v. Joe Public (Trinidad & Tobago)
Chivas USA (USA, duh) v. Tauro FC (Panama)
UNAM Pumas (Mexico) v. Harbour View (Jamaica)
Cruz Azul (Mexico) v. Hankook Verdes (Belize)
Puerto Rico Islanders v. Alajuelense (Costa Rica)
Isidro Metapan (El Salvador) v. TBD (loser of Marathon/Olimpia)
San Francisco FC (Panama) v. TBD (loser of Jalapa/Municipal)
TBD (winner of 2008 Canadian Championship) v. TBD (winner of playoff between last two Nicaraguan champions)

These games will be played on August 26-28 with the return legs September 2-4.

Interesting matchups:

UNAM Pumas v. Harbour View - Two teams who've made a bunch of appearances in the last few years in the CONCACAF Champions Cup

Puerto Rico v. Alajuelense - Puerto Rico played well in their 2nd appearance in the Carribean Club Championship, let's see if they can pull out a result against a team from one of the top leagues in CONCACAF

Things to keep in mind:

The 4 MLS teams are the 4 taking place in SuperLiga. With possible advancement in the US Open Cup, it could be a busy summer for all 4.

Mexican League teams will have just returned from the summer break, although Santos Laguna and Atlante will also play in SuperLiga this summer.

There could be a second USL First Division team, if Vancouver or Montreal can win the three-team Canadian competition over Toronto.

I can't wait, hopefully most of these games will be televised...

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