For the first time in Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League (SCCL) history, four out of the five Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs to make the Group Stages have advanced to the quarterfinals.
The LA Galaxy, DC United, Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake accomplished their goal of winning their respective groups. Only the Vancouver Whitecaps failed to qualify to the next round. However, it was a given that only four were going to advance since Vancouver and Seattle were paired with each other in the same group.
They were placed in Group F and since only the winner of the group can advance to the next round, showdowns between the two were imminent. The Sounders added another chapter with their fierce Cascadia rivals by eliminating them from the SCCL with a dominating 3-0 on Sept. 23rd at CenturyLink Field.
However, regardless that the four clubs won their groups, two of them failed to finish with a maximum points total. The Galaxy and the Sounders did not take care of business and as a result will not host the crucial second leg in the quarters.
The Galaxy blew two road games against Central FC and Comunicaiones F.C. All LA needed was to win one of those games and the Galaxy would have clinched the number one seed and had home field advantage throughout the second round. But instead, they finished with eight points and in fifth place.
The Sounders, like LA, took care of business at home going 2-0 but failed to earn one victory on the road. In fact, they did worse than the Galaxy and only achieved one point on the road. The Rave Green lost in Honduras 1-0 on Aug. 26th against Club Deportivo Olimpia, and finished with seven points which was good enough for dead last of the group winners.
RSL and DCU, on the other hand, finished in the top three of the standings with 10 points apiece. The two clubs combined for 13 goals and only conceded four goals in the process.
However, now the Group Stage is done and only eight out of the original 24 clubs are left. The MLS clubs will need to improve their performance and even their depth as they now face the teams from south of the border.
Four American and Mexicans clubs remain and each round is a battle between the two. First place Club América will take on last place Seattle. Second place DC will face SCCL newbie’s Querétaro F.C. (seventh place). Then third place RSL will compete against sixth place Tigres UANL. Then the Galaxy will be facing fourth place Club Santos Laguna in the quarters.
The Canadian and American clubs have never won the Champions League in its current iteration. The Mexican clubs have stopped them each time, and they currently enjoy a dominant record of 39-14-12 since 2008.
If these MLS clubs want to win their first SCCL in history they will need to get by the Mexicans. The 2015-2016 SCCL quarterfinals present the MLS teams the perfect opportunity to end the nightmare or continue it.
Now let’s just wait and see what happens after the quarterfinal series end in March of 2016.