Tag Archive | "CCL"

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TFC Heads to the CCL Semi-Final!

Posted on 15 March 2012 by Mahmoud Shoblaq

Following the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final tie, Toronto FC headed into LA with a big task after getting a 2-2 result at home! Having to overcome the 2 away goal deficit or simply winning the match was never going to be easy.

With a slow start to the match Ryan Johnson took advantage of a great chance to give TFC the 1-0 lead in the first half. The second half on the other hand had a different feel, where LA realized they had to rise up to the occasion and started putting plenty of pressure on TFC  leading to an own goal by Harden. TFC was resilient with Ryan Johnson continuing to put his stamp on the game and setting up Nick Soolsma for Toronto’s second goal and the game winner!

 

Toronto FC’s game flaw consisted of their high back-line that they were lucky not to have LA penetrate. A non fatigued Galaxy side would have punished this Toronto formation. On the other hand, TFC’s defense dealt well with the crosses into the box in this match in comparison to the home tie, with Kocic playing a major role in controlling his box and keeping the ball out of his net.

Man of the Match: Milos Kocic

All in all, a decent Toronto FC performance versus a softer LA Galaxy led to this result. The next round in the semi-finals versus Santos Laguna will be a difficult task especially in the away leg!

 

Toronto FC will now remain on the road and face Seattle on Saturday before returning home for their MLS home opener which leads into the first leg of their CCL semi-finals.

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CONCACAF Champions League: A Primer

Posted on 12 August 2011 by Britt Ruby

 

Next week, the CONCACAF Champions League group stage gets under way with 5 MLS teams having qualified. In light of that, I thought a few readers might like a bit of an explanation about what the whole thing is all about.

By now, most MLS fans have at least an inkling of what the CONCACAF Champions League is. But there are many of us who are either new to soccer fandom or just haven’t paid much attention to the North American version before. For this audience, I present the following, a primer on the CCL. (Note: all the links going forward connect to Wikipedia for quick reference)

What is the CCL and why do we have it?

The CONCACAF Champions League, or CCL, is an international club tournament whose participants qualify in a number of different ways. Teams from the US qualify by winning the MLS Supporters’ Shield (regular season champs), making the MLS Cup final, or by winning the US Open Cup. Teams from other countries qualify in very similar fashion but often have different terminology for national champions, play-off winners, and the like.

The purpose of the tournament is simply to choose the best club from our region. There is little financial benefit in winning the CCL except automatic entry into the Club World Cup which does create very large paydays.

What about the format?

The tournament starts with 24 clubs, 8 directly seeded into the second round (group stage) and 16 having to play in the preliminary round. These 16 sides play a home-and-home series to qualify for the group stage. The side with the greater aggregate score wins (away goals being the first tie-breaker). The 8 winners from the preliminary round join the 8 clubs whom were directly seeded in the group stage.

The groups contain 4 teams each, with each team playing every other team twice, once home and once away. Points for these games are awarded like any other soccer match, 3 for a win, 1 for a draw, 0 for a loss. The top two point winners advance to the knockout stage.

The knockout stage consists of the 8 clubs who advanced from group play. Just like the preliminary round, they play home-and-home matches with the winner being the club with the greater aggregate score, and total away goals being the first tie-breaker. The home-and-home tie is also used in the final, unlike similar tournaments elsewhere in the world.

How does the seeding work?

I mentioned above that clubs qualify by winning, or sometimes by being a runner up, in league or national tournaments. Each country has their own qualification rules and, in fact, a different number of qualifying clubs. Canada sends the winner of the Canadian Championship. I mentioned above who qualifies from the US. Mexico sends both finalists from both its Apertura and Clausura tournaments. The Central American nations with 2 seeds send just the winners of their Apertura/Clausura tournaments, while those with just 1 send the winner of a final title game between the winners of the Apertura/Clausura tournaments. The Caribbean Football Union has its own tournament whose top three teams qualify for the CCL.

Deciding who gets seeded directly into the group stage and who has play through the preliminary round involves some minutia. As a rule of thumb, nations with multiple seeds send winners of those tournaments directly to the group stage while runners-up go to the preliminary round. For the US, the MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield winners go to the group stage with the other two go to the preliminary round.

Why do some countries send more teams than others?

CONCACAF decides how many clubs from each nation qualify. In a nutshell, they look at the overall population of the countries along with the quality of its leagues. So, while the population of the US is much larger than Mexico’s, Mexico has much stronger soccer clubs. And though Canada dwarfs the population of Costa Rica, Costa Rica has many more teams with a strong history of performance.

Here’s a list of the number of berths each nation receives:

Mexico: 4

US: 4

Canada: 1

Costa Rica: 2

El Salvador: 2

Guatemala: 2

Honduras: 2

Panama: 2

Nicaragua: 1

Belize: 1

Caribbean Nations: 3

I heard no US club has ever won this thing.

Yes and no. It’s true that no US team has won the regional title under the current format which has been used since the 2008-09 cycle. Previously, we had the CONCACAF Cup which was a more abbreviated tournament consisting of just 8 teams in a single elimination knockout tournament. This allowed for a team who took it very seriously to have a run of luck and win the cup. DC United accomplished this in 1998 and the LA Galaxy in 2000.

Since the format change to the expanded number of clubs and the home-and-home series, the Mexican clubs have absolutely dominated. Only one non-Mexican side has even made the finals, Real Salt Lake, in last year’s tournament.

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