Wednesday, May 21, 2014

CCL Group Draw is May 28th

Sporting KC will find out their opponents for the 2014-2015 version of the CONCACAF Champions League a week from today. Sporting qualified for this year's version of the event after winning the 2014 MLS Cup. 

This year, KC will be grouped into Pot A because of their MLS Cup win. Last year they'd been in Pot B. Included in Pot A is fellow MLS side, New York, along with Mexico's Apertura and Clausura champion, Leon, and the Clausura runner up, Pachuca. Also included are the 2013 Invierno champion of Costa Rica, Alajuelense, Honduras' Clasura champion, Olimpia, who Sporting beat and drew with last year, Tauro, Panama's Apertura champion, and Guatemala's Apertura and Clausura champion, Comunicaciones.

Sporting will be grouped with one team from Pot B and one from Pot C to complete their group. Pot B has limited selections for Sporting KC to draw. This is because it contains the other two Mexican teams (America and Cruz Azul) and the other two US based MLS teams (Portland and DC). Teams from the US and Mexico cannot be grouped together and teams from the same federation cannot be grouped together. So that leaves five teams that KC can be grouped with. KC could be grouped with Costa Rica's Verano champion, Saprissa, who KC lost to 2-1 on aggregate in the old CONCACAF Champions Cup in 2005. (Minor bitter point, if there'd been away goals in that series KC would have gone through. The series saw a 0-0 draw in KC and a 1-1 draw in Costa Rica, but with no away goals rule the game went to extra time which KC lost.) KC could also see a different Honduran team this year, Real España, the country's Apertura champion. Another possibility is El Salvador's Apertura champion and Clasura finalist, Isidro Metapan. The final potential grouping is the Canadian representative, which could be Toronto FC or Montreal, depending on who wins the 2014 Canadian Championship which is set to be played over two legs on May 28th and June 4th.

The Pot C participant can come from any of the available teams. Currently there are nine potential teams, but that'll be cut to 8 after this weekend's match up in El Salvador. Metapan plays Dragon for the Clasura championship. If Dragon wins, they'll get El Salvador's spot in pot C. If Metapan wins, the spot goes to the team with the best record in El Salvador over the Apertura and Clasura that is not Metapan. That would mean that FAS would be the other qualifier from El Salvador. 

The other seven qualifiers in Pot C have already been decided. Sporting could get a rematch from last year, against Real Esteli s the Nicaraguan side again qualified. Also qualifying was Municipal from Guatemala as the runner up with the best aggregate record after Comunicaciones won the Apertura and Clasura. Chorrillo, the Panamanian Clasura champion is another participant. The three Caribbean teams were decided from the CFU Championship group stage after the finals were canceled. Puerto Rico's Puerto Rico Bayamon FC, Jamaica's Waterhouse, and Guyana's Alpha United. 

The last spot in the pot belongs to Belize side, Belmopan Bandits, the winner of both the Opening and Closing season. The Bandits though may not get to participate in the tournament. The past few years, Belize has lost their spot in the tournament because they do not have a stadium that meets CONCACAF's minimum standards for the Champions League. Last year, Belize's spot was replaced by a Costa Rican team (Cartagines), the year before it was a team from El Salvador (FAS). Based on the fact that a Costa Rican team made it further in the tournament than any other non-Mexican team, I'd expect the spot to go to a Costa Rican team, which would probably be Herediano, who finished 2nd in the Invierno and third in the Verano this past season.

Here are the Pots broken down.

Pot A
Leon (Mexico)
Pachuca (Mexico)
Sporting KC (USA)
New York Red Bulls (USA)
Alajuelense (Costa Rica)
Olimpia (Honduras)
Comunicaciones (Guatemala)
Tauro (Panama)

Pot B (those with a * cannot be grouped with KC)
*America (Mexico)
*Cruz Azul (Mexico)
*Portland Timbers (USA)
*DC United (USA)
Saprissa (Costa Rica)
Real España (Honduras)
Isidro Metapan (El Salvador)
Toronto FC/Montreal Impact (Canada)

Pot C
Municipal (Guatemala)
FAS/Dragon (El Salvador)
Chorrillo (Panama)
Real Esteli (Nicaragua)
Belmopan Bandits (Belize)
Puerto Rico Bayamon FC (Puerto Rico)
Waterhouse (Jamaica)
Alpha United (Guyana)

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