CONCACAF Champions League

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CCL draw: TFC meets Rapids, Club America to face Saprissa

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Major League Soccers sides are still searching for the magic potion that will guide them to CONCACAF Champions League glory.

Could 2018 be the year that one of MLS’ best finally break through?

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The CCL draw was held on Monday night, which included five teams from the United States’ top division.

FC Dallas, Toronto FC, the Seattle Sounders, the Colorado Rapids and the New York Red Bulls each enter the 2018 edition of the competition, which begins next year with 16 clubs in total.

Toronto — who recently won MLS Cup — will take on the Rapids in the only possible matchup between MLS sides.

Meanwhile, the match of the opening round will likely be Liga MX giants Club America taking on Costa Rican side Saprissa.

The Round of 16 will commence in February and early March, with home-and-home fixtures deciding which teams will advance to the quarterfinals.

Below is the full set of pairings from Monday’s CCL draw in Miami.

A1– Chivas Guadalajara vs. B1–Cibao (Dominican Republic)
A2– Seattle Sounders vs. B2– Santa Tecla (El Salvador)
A3– New York Red Bulls vs. B3– Olimpia (Honduras)
A4– Club Tijuana vs. B4– Motagua (Honduras)
A5 — Tigres vs. B5– Herediano (Costa Rica)
A6– Toronto FC vs. B6– Colorado Rapids
A7– FC Dallas vs. B7– Tauro (Panama)
A8– America vs. B8– Saprissa (Costa Rica)

Sporting KC claims its fourth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (video)

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Latif Blessing and Daniel Salloi scored as Sporting KC held on to beat New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the 104th Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final on Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas.

Bradley Wright-Phillips blasted a Gonzalo Veron rebound beyond Tim Melia in the first minute of stoppage time to set up a nervy final five minutes. It was the Red Bulls’ second final, and second loss.

The win marks KC’s fourth title, tied for the most amongst active clubs, and its third in six tournaments.

KC now qualifies for the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League.

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Sporting KC could’ve been down a man within five minutes, as referee Hilario Grajeda was handing out a yellow card to Seth Sinovic when Diego Rubio inexplicably kicked Felipe Martins in the ankle. It went unseen, and VAR is not a part of the final.

Gerson arrived on the doorstep with the ball and instead side-footed a pass that never got to Benny Feilhaber, a huge let-off for the Red Bulls.

Sacha Kljestan ripped a shot through traffic that forced a save out of Tim Melia in the 14th minute.

KC went ahead when Graham Zusi’s cross was somehow missed by a trio of Red Bulls defenders, allowing Blessing to pound a header home.

Benny Feilhaber committed a pair of fouls to allow a Red Bulls free kick from just outside the 18 and the end line, but the chance was blocked. A counter attack pass from Blessing sprung Gerso on a breakaway, but Ryan Meara blocked the shot.

Meara made another save after the first ball off the ensuing corner cranked off the cross bar.

Feilhaber then cued up Salloi for the insurance marker, before tournament leading scorer Wright-Phillips pulled one back for New York.

Ike Opara ripped down Wright-Phillips in the sixth of six stoppage time minutes, earning a yellow card and giving RBNY a free kick from 23 yards. Felipe skied his effort over the bar.

Jara’s goal lifts Pachuca to CONCACAF Champions League crown

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Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.

The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.

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Major League Soccer teams were eliminated in the semifinals, with FC Dallas falling to Pachuca and Vancouver Whitecaps losing to Tigres.

Beginning with the 2017-18 tournament, qualified MLS and Liga MX teams will not enter the tournament until the Round of 16. The entire tournament will be held in the same calendar year.

CONCACAF Champions League semis: Dallas, Tigres on track for final

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Brew some late night coffee or tea on Tuesday and Wednesday as a pair of Major League Soccer teams look for their share of history.

FC Dallas is better positioned than Vancouver Whitecaps, but both MLS sides are aiming to get through midweek CONCACAF Champions League semifinal second legs to take the next step toward the FIFA Club World Cup.

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An MLS side has never represented CONCACAF in FIFA’s club showcase (though LA Galaxy qualified in 2000 only to see the tournament canceled). Real Salt Lake and Montreal Impact are the only clubs to make a final since the CCL went to its current format in 2005.

FC Dallas is in a very good spot after Maxi Urruti and Kellyn Acosta bookended halftime with goals in a 2-1 comeback win on March 15 in Texas. Still, holding that one-goal advantage in Pachuca is no easy task, and Tuesday’s hosts (10 p.m. EDT) own four continental titles since 2002 and boasts dangerous Mexican attacker Hirving Lozano and young midfielder Erick Gutierrez in addition to USMNT center back — and Dallas native — Omar Gonzalez.

Vancouver has more work to do 24 hours later when it welcomes Tigres UANL to BC Place. The ‘Caps did not manage an away goal in San Nicolas, and need 2-0 or a three-goal win to advance to the CCL Final. Tigres has been shut out in back-to-back Liga MX matches, but Andre-Pierre Gignac represents a huge challenge for Kendall Waston and the Vancouver back line. While defenders get preoccupied with the big Frenchman, new man Eduardo Vargas is also a big threat, as are Ismail Sosa and Jurgen Damm.

CCL: FC Dallas hold 2-1 lead over Pachuca after leg 1 of semis

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If a Major League Soccer side is to win the CONCACAF Champions League this season, most would have wagered prior to the start of the knockout round that FC Dallas were the side most likely to break through.

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Based on the evidence of Oscar Pareja’s side’s quarterfinal thrashing of Panamanian side Arabe Unido, and the Hoops’ semifinals 2-1 first-leg victory Pachuca on Wednesday, that bet seems safer, and more likely, now than ever before.

The tie couldn’t have started much worse for FCD, who went a goal down in their home leg a mere 135 seconds after kickoff. Hernan Grana slipped as Erick Aguirre faked one direction and raced away in the other before cutting the ball back to Franco Jara at the top of the six-yard box. From there, it was a simple finish on the half-volley to make it 1-0.

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It didn’t take FCD long to settle into the game, though, as they were the better side for the majority of Wednesday’s game. It took almost the entire first half to break through, but it was a long time coming. Pachuca goalkeeper Alfonso Blanco couldn’t hold onto Grana’s cross from the right wing, and the ball fell to Maximiliano Urruti, who narrowly got his foot onto the ball for a not-so-easy, first-time finish.

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Kellyn Acosta made it 2-1 to FCD barely six hours after his first call-up to the U.S. national team became public knowledge. Acosta will give Bruce Arena plenty to think about when picking his lineups against Honduras and Panama, especially with stunning free-kick efforts like the one below.

The two sides will meet in two weeks’ time, on Tuesday, April 4, for the second leg. The aggregate winner will advance to the two-leg final, where they’ll face the winner of Tigers versus Vancouver Whitecaps in the other semifinal (Tigres lead 2-0 after Vancouver’s home leg).