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Wednesday, May 18, 2011
GALAXY: Tough draw for CCL

By Scott French

The Galaxy was seeded atop Group A for CONCACAF's Champions League, but they received no favors in Wednesday's draw.

If there's a "Group of Death" in the fourth edition of CONCACAF's expanded club championship, it's the Galaxy's, if everything follows form.




L.A., in the tournament after winning Major League Soccer's Supporters' Shield last season for posting the best regular-season record, was grouped with Costa Rican powerhouse Alajuelense and are likely to face Mexican and Honduran foes, too.

The preliminary round, to be played in late July and early August, will determine the last two clubs in Group A. The loser in this week's Mexican Clausura final -- Pumas UNAM or Morelia -- will face the runner-up in the Caribbean Championship later this month for one berth, and Honduras' Motagua will take on Guatemala's Municipal for the other.

Alajuelense won both championships this season in Costa Rica, and Motagua is the reigning Honduran champ.

Four teams are battling for three Caribbean berths in the CCL, with Puerto Rico Islanders facing Guyana's Alpha United in one semifinal May 25 and Trinidad & Tobago's Defence Force meeting Haiti's TempÍte in the other. The final and third-place game are slated for May 27. The Islanders eliminated the Galaxy in the CCL's preliminary round last year.

MLS Cup champ Colorado's group could include Mexico's Santos Laguna, which must win a preliminary-round series with Honduras' Olimpia to reach the group stage. FC Dallas and the Canadian champion -- Toronto FC or the Vancouver Whitecaps -- have play-ins to join the Pumas-Morelia winner in Group C; the Seattle Sounders must win a preliminary series to join defending champion Monterrey in Group D.

Olimpia replaced Belize Defence Force, which was booted from the tournament for the third straight year because if does not have access to a stadium that meets confederation standards.

CONCACAF has not announced the match orders or schedule yet, but group play will run from mid-August through mid-October, with the quarterfinals and beyond slated for next year.

Here is the draw and tournament dates:

GROUP A
Galaxy (USA)
Alajuelense (Costa Rica)
Pumas UNAM/Morelia loser (Mexico) or Caribbean runner-up
Motagua (Honduras) or Municipal (Guatemala)

GROUP B
Colorado Rapids (USA)
Real EspaŮa (Honduras)
Santos Laguna (Mexico) or Olimpia (Honduras)
Isidro Metapan (El Salvador) or Caribbean champion

GROUP C
Pumas/Morelia winner (Mexico)
Tauro (Panama)
FC Dallas (USA) or Alianza (El Salvador)
Canadian champion or Nicaraguan qualifier

GROUP D
Monterrey (Mexico)
Comunicaciones (Guatemala)
Seattle Sounders (USA) or San Francisco (Panama)
Herediano (Costa Rica) or Caribbean third-place team

TOURNAMENT DATES
Preliminary stage (two legs):
July 26-28 and Aug. 2-4
Group stage (six games): Aug. 16-18, Aug. 23-25, Sept. 13-15, Sept. 20-22, Sept. 27-29 and Oct. 18-20
Knockout stage (two-legged quarterfinals, semifinals and final): TBA