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Friday, August 5, 2011
CONCACAF Champions League schedule: round 1 and 2

By Buzz Carrick

With it's 2-0 aggregate win over Alianza FC, FC Dallas has advanced into the group stage of play in the CONCACAF Champions League.  CONCACAF being what they are, only the first two rounds of play have been announced.

FC Dallas opens with the toughest game they will play during this round, traveling to Mexico City on Wednesday, August 17th (9 PM CT), to take on three time winner of the CONCACAF Champions Cup (the forerunner to the CCL) Club Universidad Nacional A.C. (a.k.a. UNAM Pumas).  Pumas has won seven Primera División titles and are the current Clausura 2011 champions.

In other words Pumas is good, really good. And playing in Mexico City is both difficult and intimidating. This will be, in short, the toughest game FC Dallas has ever played.

Quick history on Pumas for the many Americans who may now know, the club was founded in the 50s by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), a large "independent" university in Mexico city. One of the largest universities in the Americas to this day (over 300,000 students). The team was originally formed of students and represented the university by playing in the professional soccer leagues. The Pumas teams colors were allegedly picked because of Notre Dame, American football being very popular at the time on campus. While there is no "official" connection between club and school any more, the school teams are all still called Pumas and Pumas' home stadium in on UNAM's campus.

Round 2 of the CCL will see FCD making another trip, although this one will be against a much easier opponent, albeit an opponent with good crowds and fans.  Round 2 FCD will face off with familiar foe Toronto FC on Wednesday, Augsut 24th (7 PM CT) at BMO Field.  TFC isn't a team I have to tell you much about and will make a substantially easier opponent given their current trouble and roster churn.

Since the CCL is supposed to be for champions (mostly) you may wonder what Toronto FC is doing in this tournament.  TFC qualified by winning the Nutrilite Canadian Championship over Vancouver Whitecaps.  

This is fact the Red's third straight CCL appearance. TFC lost in the prelimary round to old friend Colin Clarke and his Puerto Rico Islanders two years ago, then last year finished 3rd in Group A behind Real Salt Lake and La Maquina after they upset Cruz Azul in their opening match.

As for the rest of the schedule it has yet to be determined, or at least yet to be released. With two games coming before the month is out, we should hear more of the schedule before we get to September.

CONCACAF Champions League
Group Stage

Round 1
Wednesday, August 17
Pumas UNAM (MEX) vs. FC Dallas (USA), 10 p.m.

Round 2
Wednesday, August 24
Toronto FC (CAN) vs. FC Dallas (USA), 8 p.m.