Tuesday, May 17, 2011
GALAXY: Champions League foes await
By Scott French
The Galaxy will know its path to next year's knockout stage in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday, when the draw will be staged in New York.
L.A., by winning last year's Major League Soccer Supporters' Shield, with the best regular-season record, is one of four top seeds for the 24-team tournament and will paired in the group stage with a No. 2 seed from Central America, with two more teams to arrive via a preliminary-round home-and-home series.
The Galaxy lost in last year's preliminary round to the Puerto Rico Islanders, who play in the North American Soccer League, American soccer's second division.
MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids and Mexico's two champions -- Monterrey and the winner of this week's Pumas UNAM-Morelia final in the spring Clausura -- also are top seeds. The other clubs advancing straight to the group stage are Alajuelense (Costa Rica), Comunicaciones (Guatemala), Real Espaņa (Honduras) and San Francisco (Panama).
MLS Cup runner-up FC Dallas, U.S. Open Cup champion Seattle Sounders, the Canadian Championship winner (Toronto FC or Vancouver FC) and Mexico's runners-up (Santos Laguna and the Pumas-Morelia loser) will play in the preliminary round, slated for June 26-28 and Aug. 2-4.
Six rounds of group play will run from mid-August to mid-October, with the top two in each of four groups advancing to the quarterfinals next March.
Six berths remain open, with half of them going to the Caribbean, which will play its final four next week in Guyana. The Puerto Rico Islanders are seeking their fourth stint in the CCL. San Francisco and El Salvador's Isidro Metapan also are in the competition for the fourth year.
Mexican clubs have won the first three editions of the CCL: Atlante in 2009, Pachuca last year, Monterrey in April. Real Salt Lake, which fell to Monterrey on aggregate, was the first non-Mexican team to reach a final.
The competition's predecessor, the CONCACAF Champions' Cup, was a more loosely organized event contested, in all but four years, from 1962 to 2008. The Galaxy (2000) and D.C. United (1998) won titles, and the Galaxy lost to Mexico's Cruz Azul in the 1997 final.
Pot A (top seeds)
- Galaxy (U.S., 2010 MLS Supporters' Shield winner)
- Colorado Rapids (U.S., 2010 MLS Cup champion)
- Monterrey (Mexico, 2010 Apertura champion)
- Pumas UNAM or Morelia (Mexico, 2011 Clausura champion)
Pot B (No. 2 seeds)
- Alajuelense (Costa Rica, 2010 Invierno/2011 Verano champion)
- Real Espaņa (Honduras, 2010 Apertura champion)
- Comunicaciones (Guatemala, 2010 Apertura/2011 Clausura champion)
- San Francisco (Panama, 2011 Clausura champion)
Pot A (No. 3 seeds)
- FC Dallas (U.S., 2010 MLS Cup runner-up)
- Seattle Sounders (2010 U.S. Open Cup champion)
- Toronto FC or Vancouver Whitecaps (2011 Canadian Championship winner)
- Santos Laguna (Mexico, 2010 Apertura runner-up)
- Pumas UNAM or Morelia (Mexico, 2011 Clausura runner-up)
- Herediano (Costa Rica, best 2010-11 record among non-champions)
- Motagua (Honduras, 2011 Clausura champion)
- Isidro Metapan (El Salvador, 2010 Apertura champion)
Pot B (No. 4 seed)
- Municipal (Guatemala, 2010 Apertura/2011 Clausura runner-up)
- Tauro (Panama, 2010 Apertura champion)
- Alianza (El Salvador, 2011 Clausura champion)
- Walter Ferreti or Real Estella (Nicaragua, overall champion)
- Belize Defence Force (Belize, 2010-11 Premier League champion)
- Three from among Puerto Rico Islanders, Alpha United (Guyana), Defence Force (Trinidad & Tobago) and Tempęte (Haiti, Caribbean Championship winner, runner-up and third-place winner)