Recently, CONCACAF announced that they would begin a Champions League, a virtual carbon copy of UEFA's Champions League. Joe Guarr, a MLS community leader here on the B/R, recently wrote about the new tournament. If you missed that article, here it is (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/50650-concacafs-answer-to-the-uefa-champions-league).
Well, the preliminary rounds of the Champions League are set to kick off today, as two MLS clubs face off against two Latin American clubs. The winners of the two matches will advance into the group stages of the tournament.
First up, Chivas USA from Los Angeles will head down to Panama and face Tauro FC. The match will kick off at 8pm ET. The last game that Chivas played was a scoreless draw with the San Jose Quakes on Saturday.
This is the first match in which Tauro FC will play a MLS club. The last match Tauro FC played was against Chorrillo FC, in which Tauro won 3-0.
The only other Panamain club that played against an MLS club was back in 2003, when Deportivo Arabe Unido faced the Columbus Crew in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. The Crew won 4-2 on aggregate after losing in Panama but then winning back in Columbus.
Chivas defender, Bobby Burling said of the upcoming match: "I don't know much about the opponent we are playing but going down there, we are looking for the win obviously. I think everybody is excited, despite how early we are here ... we want to win the trophy, we want to advance. I was talking to a couple of the guys and nobody knew much about Tauro. It's going to be interesting and we are excited."
At the same time the Chivas match is going on, the New England Revolution will be in Trinadad facing off against Joe Public FC. The last match that the Revs played was a 1-1 draw over Toronto FC on Saturday. Taylor Twellman managed to score but Chad Barrett equalized for TFC.
Unlike Tauro FC, JPFC knows MLS clubs very well. Back in 1998, DC United demolished Joe Public in the Champions Cup quarterfinals at the RFK Stadium, 8-0. The next year, Joe Public once again made it to the Champions Cup quarterfinals in Las Vegas. There, the Chicago Fire defeated them, 1-0.
The last match Joe Public played was a loss to Defence Force FC on Saturday. They are now fifth in the T&T Pro League, fourteen points behind the leader.
In a statement to the Trinidad Express, ex-Rapids defender Keyeno Thomas said: "I think we can match them once we are up to scratch on the day. I have played in the MLS and the difference in the standard of play isn't great. We have some good talent in our squad as well and some experience too. I believe once we can settle early and work to our plan, then a good result is a definite possibility."
The matches today are the first in a two-game series. The winners of the series will go onto the group stage.
The winner of the Chivas-Tauro match will go to Group D, which includes Santos Laguna from Mexico, Municipal from Guatemala, and the winner of the preliminary match between LD Alajuelense from Costa Rica and the Puerto Rico Islanders. Such as Mexico's Santos Laguna, Guatemala's Municipal and a preliminary-round victor between Costa Rica's LD Alajuelense and the USL club Puerto Rico Islanders.
The winner of the Rev-JPFC match will go to Group C, where they will meet Mexican club Atlante, Honduran side Olimpia and the winner of the qualifying series between Montreal Impact (Canada) and Real Esteli (Nicaragua) in Group C.