Tuesday, August 16, 2011

CONCACAF Champions League Group Play Kicks Off Tonight

With four games on the slate tonight, Group Play for the CONCACAF Champions League is set to kick off. At stake is a berth to the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup, a 7 team tournament featuring the winners of the the Six Soccer Confederations' Champions Leagues and the host nation (this year it will be Japan's J-League Winner). Mexico's club teams have won the last six Champions League titles with Monterrey winning last year's final 3-2 on aggregate goals over Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake. Last year marked the first time since 2000 that the U.S. had a team reach the finals, but despite opening with a 2-2 draw in Monterrey, they came up short at home losing 1-0 in the 2nd leg.

Major League Soccer is well represented in the tournament this year claiming 5 of the Final 16 spots with the Los Angeles Galaxy, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC all qualifying. Only two U.S. teams have ever won the tournament, with both D.C United (1998) and the Galaxy (2000) taking home the title back when it was still the Champions Cup. Only in 2008 did the tournament reformat itself and become the Champions League.

Photo Credit: rslcup.blogspot.com

Here's a breakdown of the four groups and how the teams all qualified:


Los Angeles Galaxy (USA) - 2010 MLS Supporters' Shield Champion - Automatic Qualifier
Alajuelense (Costa Rica) - 2010 Invierno and 2011 Verano Champion - Automatic Qualifier
Morelia (Mexico) - 2011 Clausura Runner-Up - Defeated Tempête (Haiti) in Prelim Round
Motagua (Honduras) - 2011 Clausura Champion - Defeated Municipal (Guatemala) in Prelim Round


Colorado Rapids (USA) - 2010 MLS Cup Champion - Automatic Qualifier
Real España (Honduras) - 2010 Apertura Champion - Automatic Qualifier
Santos Laguna (Mexico) - 2010 Apertura Runner-Up - Defeated Olimpia (Honduras) in Prelim Round
Isidro Metapán (El Salvador) - 2010 Apertura Champion - Defeated Puerto Rico Islanders in Prelim Round


UNAM (Mexico) - 2011 Clausura Champion - Automatic Qualifier
Tauro (Panama) - 2010 Apertura Champion - Automatic Qualifier
FC Dallas (USA) - 2010 MLS Cup Runner-Up - Defeated Alianza (El Salvador) in Prelim Round
Toronto FC (Canada) - 2011 Canadian Championship Champion - Defeated Real Estelí (Nicaragua) in Prelim Round


Monterrey (Mexico) - 2010 Apertura Champion - Automatic Qualifier
Comunicaciones (Guatemala) - 2010 Apertura and 2011 Clausura Champions - Automatic Qualifier
Seattle Sounders (USA) - 2010 U.S. Open Cup Champion - Defeated San Francisco (Panama) in Prelim Round
Herediano (Costa Rica) - 2010 Invierno Runner-Up - Defeated Alpha United (Guyana) in Prelim Round

There are four games on the slate tonight with a pair of MLS sides in action. Alajuelense hosts Morelia, the Galaxy host CD Motagua, Santos hosts Real España and the Seattle Sounders will take on Comunicaciones. Tomorrow the Colorado Rapids will host Isidro Metapán, UNAM will host FC Dallas and Herediano will host Monterrey. The final first round game will be Thursday as Tauro FC hosts Toronto FC.

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