Following CONCACAF Champions League isn’t always easy.
The teams from our part of the world compete against clubs many of us know nothing about, sometimes in places that plenty of us couldn’t point to on a map.
The competition in its current incarnation has not been around for long, and the format is still being adjusted. Just this year, for instance, a substantial shift was made in group play format.
Plus, there is not a designated Champions League day or days, which is what we have in Europe for the UEFA Champions League (a.k.a., the Champions League that pretty much everyone is talking about when we mention Champions League). For CONCACAF there’s more of a “window,” which is why the final round of group stage matches has stretched over three nights this week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
(Nor does it doesn’t help that the official CONCACAF web site’s standings aren’t updated consistently. This morning, for instance, the standings still haven’t been changed to reflect this week’s results, so of which were two nights ago.)
Tonight, the whole unwieldy thing gets a little easier to digest, at least. That’s because the group stage winners will be revealed and the quarterfinal matchups set.
The final two contests in group play will be decided tonight as Mexico’s famous Chivas hosts Guatemalan overachievers Xelaju and The Los Angeles Galaxy play in El Salvador against Metepan.
Seven of the final eight quarterfinalists are already set, although the order can still be affected by games tonight. The final berth comes down to tonight’s match in Guadalajara, where the tiny Guatemalan club needs a draw or a one-goal loss by any score that isn’t 1-0 to oust one of Mexico’s most historic clubs.
The Galaxy can improve its position (and perhaps avoid one of the tougher teams in the quarterfinals, saving the tougher opposition for a little later), but Galaxy manager Bruce Arena will count on a reserve squad to get the job done.
Here are the seven clubs that have already qualified for next year’s quarterfinals; a place in the FIFA Club World Cup goes to the eventual winner:
- Santos Laguna, Mexico
- Monterrey, Mexico
- Seattle, MLS
- LA Galaxy, MLS
- Houston, MLS
- Herediano, Costa Rica
- Alajuelense, Costa Rica