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2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League set to kickoff tonight



With the MLS season in full swing, for some clubs an already congested schedule is about to become even more cluttered as the CONCACAF Champions' League preliminary rounds kickoff tonight. D.C. United gets things rolling for MLS, and there is potential for a Jose Francisco Torres appearance with Pachuca later on tonight.

MLS teams have taken a beating in the short history of this tournament, as last year's participants in the preliminary round, Chivas USA and New England, couldn't find a way into the group stage. Three MLS teams look to rectify that starting this week.

Here's a quick preview of the relevant match ups, things to watch for, as well as your television viewing options (all times EST).


D.C. United vs. L.A. Firpo — 8 p.m., FSC

CONCACAF Champions' League play returns to RFK Stadium, and United will be looking to improve on a dismal campaign in 2008. While they had a plethora of excuses to ease the pain of an 0-5-1 performance in the group stages, this is a chance at redemption. But even taking that motivation into consideration, with a logjam of teams up at the top of the Eastern Conference, it would be surprising to see Tom Soehn risk several regulars for the two-legged series against Firpo. The small club from El Salvador made their way to the competition by default — they replaced C.D. Chalatenango, another club that went bankrupt — so it's hard to say what kind of a test they'll be for United.

Pachuca vs. Jalapa — 10 p.m., Galavision

Pachuca, who qualified for the preliminary round via their runner-up finish in the Mexican playoffs, face C.D. Jalapa of Guatemala. Biggest takeaway from this one from a U.S. perspective: this is Jose Francisco Torres' chance to prove to Bob Bradley that he should be a part of the August 12th match up at the Azteca.


Toronto FC vs. Puerto Rico Islanders — 8 p.m. EST, FSC

A new page is turned in the history of Toronto FC as they make their debut in the CCL. They'll take on one of the darlings of the last tournament in Puerto Rico, who came up just short of a final appearance when they fell to Cruz Azul on PKs. Not only is it a chance for Toronto to make a splash on a larger stage, but it's also a chance to inject a new perspective on the MLS vs. USL debate.

San Francisco (PAN) vs. San Juan Jabloteh (T&T)

Municipal Liberia (CRC) vs. Real España (HON)


New York Red Bull vs. W Connection — 8 p.m., FSC, Galavision

What kind of a performance will we see from New York? They are in the midst of one of the worst seasons in MLS history, and with a 2-15-4 record as they attempt to qualify for the group stages, it's hard to put a positive spin on this. But, this week represents a chance at a new competition where there is a possibility — however remote — that they could succeed. Meanwhile, this is an opportunity for W Connection, a club out of Trinidad & Tobago, to sneak their way into the group stages of the tournament.

Herediano vs. Cruz Azul — 10 p.m., Galavision

Olimpia (HON) vs. Árabe Unido (PAN)


Do you think any of the three MLS teams will make it into the group stages? Can the Red Bulls salvage anything from an abysmal season? Who will win between Toronto and Puerto Rico? Share your thoughts below.


  1. How did these three teams “qualify” for this tournament?

    Seems like Columbus should’ve been involved, as well as maybe last year’s regular season points leader.

    I’m assuming Toronto’s in the tourney just to have a Canadian team, but the other two teams feel random.

  2. Oh, you can find plenty of guys who can “play” on a 5-figure salary; they just wouldn’t be good enough to actually win games against any of the Mexican or top Costa Rican teams (and I have my doubts that such quality talent can beat Firpo or W Connection over 2 legs, since Chivas and the Revs trotted out USL-quality players against Joe Public and Tauro last year and got walloped).

  3. They don’t have to beat West Brom, Richard, just Firpo and W Connection.

    If a player is on your roster, they ought to be able to play in a MLS or CCL or Open Cup game. If they can’t, drop them and get someone else. There are plenty of guys in USL and Central America that could come in.

  4. There’s this thing called a “salary cap” in MLS. It’s $2.3M. If you have a DP as NYRB does, that’s another 400K gone. So 1.9M for the remaining 21 players. Tell me how you’re going to build a “better, deeper team” that “you feel confident putting on the field” for an amount that’s less than what West Bromwich Albion paid for Simon Cox.

  5. I’m always put off by the “schedule congestion” argument.

    Build a better, deeper team if that’s an issue. Have eight defenders and midfielders you feel confident putting on the field. Have four strikers and two keepers. It’s not that hard to do. Yes the “starters” will be better. But “schedule congestion” is a state of mind, not a reality. Play who you have and try to win. Set priorities and play who you need in the more important games and others in the other games.

    It’s really not an issue. Just use your roster.

  6. Anybody know what the prize money is for the champions league? No one seems to know this which leads me to believe its a small amount and they don’t like to talk about it.

  7. Azteca sold out for Aug 12

    Posted by: milkshake of despair | July 28, 2009 at 03:13 PM


    I like your name, though.

  8. Thanks, Blake. The Champs League website didn’t mention them anywhere so I naturally assumed that they weren’t included.

  9. I for one would love to see all the MLS sides advance to the next round. It’s about time that one of the MLS teams puts together a run to the finals and wins this thing.

  10. Goat – They, along with the Dynamo, are already qualified for the group stage. This round is a qualifying round for that stage.

  11. Can someone please explain how qualification works? Specifically, I’m wondering why Columbus, the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup holders, aren’t in it or have automatic qualification.

  12. I hope the chance of doing something positive motivates the Red Bulls. I am debating going to the return leg next week and it would be a big incentive to go if they have a place in the group stages to play for still. As long as they don’t get humiliated like they have been lately, it seems likely.


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