Major League Soccer’s hopes of ending its Concacaf Champions League title drought will rest on beating some top Mexican and Costa Rican teams in the early portion of the knockout rounds after Wednesday’s Round of 16 draw set out a difficult road for the MLS representatives.
Reigning MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew are facing a potential quarterfinal clash with Monterrey and the Portland Timbers could find themselves against mighty Club America in the quarterfinals, after the Round of 16 bracket was unveiled by Concacaf.
Reigning MLS Supporters’ Shield winners Philadelphia Union received one of the more difficult draws, taking on Costa Rican giant Deportivo Saprissa in the Round of 16, while Atlanta United meets another Costa Rican powerhouse in Alajuelense, which could help set up a potential Union-Atlanta United quarterfinal.
Teams were split into two pots for the opening round draw, and all of the MLS delegation was found in Pot 1, ensuring no all-MLS match-ups in the opening round.
It his yet to be determined who will be representing Canada as the Canadian Premier League champions Forge FC patiently waits for a chance to upset Toronto FC and newly-installed head coach Chris Armas in the Canadian Championship Final. The high stakes matchup is expected to take place ahead of the 2021 MLS season.
Here is a look at how the bracket lays out, along with a closer look at the full opening slate of matches, which will be played across two legs and are being planned to kick off in April:
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— Liga BBVA MX (@LigaBBVAMX) February 11, 2021
CCL Round of 16
Cruz Azul vs Arcahaie
CF Monterrey vs Atlético Pantoja
Atlanta United vs Alajuelense
Philadelphia Union vs Saprissa
Columbus Crew vs Real Estelí
Forge FC/Toronto FC vs León
Portland Timbers vs Marathón
Club America vs Olimpia