MIAMI (December 3, 2018)- The 2019 CONCACAF Champions League Draw placed five MLS squads into their round of 16 matchups. Those matchups will begin prior to the 2019 MLS Season, hastening the offseason preparations for a lot of these clubs.
CONCACAF Champions League Draw Sets Stage for Five MLS Teams
The five MLS participants all qualified in a variety of ways. Toronto FC will represent Canada as the winner of the 2018 Canadian Championship. Sporting KC qualified by winning the 2017 US Open Cup Final. The Houston Dynamo qualified by winning the the 2018 US Open Cup. And last but not least, Atlanta United will automatically qualify, but their designation is dependent on the result of the MLS Cup Final.
If they win MLS Cup on Saturday, they’ll enter as the 2018 MLS Cup Champions, and subsequently, New York Red Bulls will enter as the 2018 Supporter’s Shield winners. If the Portland Timbers win, they’ll qualify as well, meaning Atlanta’s “qualification” is based on having the most total points in MLS over the last two years. Now, on to the matchups:
Atlanta United vs. CS Herediano (CRC)
Atlanta United will face off against the Costa Rican champions in what should be a fairly straightforward tie for them. Herediano have been around CCL for a while, but the roster doesn’t feature any massive names of note. The most notable names are former Seattle Sounders defender, Leonardo Gonzalez, and former Minnesota United wide man, José Leitón.
Toronto FC vs. Club Atlético Independiente (PAN)
Toronto FC will have a fairly straightforward tie as well, facing off against Panamanian side Independiente. It’s a young side that doesn’t have a whole lot experience outside of the Panamanian first division. Despite a bad 2018, TFC should be able to get through this matchup.
Houston Dynamo vs. CD Guastatoya (GUA)
Houston will have a nice first round matchup against the Guatemalan side, CD Guastatoya. Guastatoya features several of the Guatemalan national team members including one of their most capped defenders. They should be a fairly decent test for the Dynamo, and should be a good road test as well. Teams usually find it quite difficult in their travels to Guatemala.
RBNY/POR vs. Club Atlético Pantoja (D.R.)
Whoever lands this bid, either RBNY or Portland, will get a nice trip to the Dominican Republic in the winter. Atletico Pantoja are the surprise team of the CCL this year, showing the recently growing soccer scene in the Dominican. It should be a fairly easy result for either MLS side that gets in.
CD Toluca (MEX) vs. Sporting KC
This is easily the most salivating matchup for MLS Squads in the Round of 16. Sporting KC will take on a talented Toluca side. This Toluca squad holds plenty of talented, and experienced players from all over South and Central America. Fernando Talavera might be one of the most well known, for his time as the Mexican National Team Goalkeeper. This will by far be the toughest of the matchups for MLS teams.