Announced earlier today was the altered format for the tournament, which starts in August. The group phase has been revised to ditch the play-in games and draft all qualifying teams to eight groups of three. Let’s take a look at the results from the draw…
Santos Laguna (MEX)
Toronto FC (CAN)
Real Salt Lake (USA)
Tauro FC (PAN)
Houston Dynamo (USA)
Seattle Sounders FC (USA)
LA Galaxy (USA)
Tigres UANL (MEX)
Real Esteli (NIC)
Chivas de Guadalajara (MEX)
Note that the Caribbean champions cup is still underway, with four teams vying for three spots into CCL. So far, there are a couple new-comers to the Champions League scene — Zelaju of Guatemala, Chorillo of Panama, CD FAS of El Salvador, and Aguila of El Salvador. Judging by Tauro FC’s run in group play last year, I would say the Panamanian champs (Chorillo) will be a tough nut to crack in Group 7, but the presence of perennial favorites Monterrey in that group probably means the Mexicans move on.
Ironic is that the soccer gods are looking at Toronto FC very unfavorably, as they’re grouped with Santos Laguna, the Mexican side that ousted them from the tournament just two short months ago with a trouncing south of the border.
Real Salt Lake seem to have drawn a tough group with Herediano (Costa Rican champions) and Tauro FC, a team that gave a very good FC Dallas team a hard time last year in the group setting. For the Wasatch Boys to advance, it’ll take some quality play on the road, as both Panama and Costa Rica are difficult places to play. And, if anyone remembers the 2010-2011 Group Stage where RSL played Arabe Unido, you’ll remember that diving and atrocious fans will be a huge obstacle.
Once the Caribbean Cup concludes, I’ll try to give my best analysis of the groups and we’ll do some predictions, too.