NEW YORK – Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew could be drawn against one another in an unprecedented all-MLS quarterfinal matchup in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Real Salt Lake have already qualified to the quarterfinal stage and can finish in first place in Group A with a victory over Cruz Azul Tuesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The Crew are hoping to clinch a spot into the next round as early as Tuesday night, when Mexican club Santos host Guatemalan side Municipal. A Santos victory would clinch second place in Group B for Columbus. If Santos tie or lose, the Crew could take over first place if they beat Joe Public on Thursday.
CONCACAF will hold the Champions League quarterfinal draw on Nov. 1, pitting the four first-place finishers from Groups A through D against the four second-place teams. The only condition is that teams from the same group cannot face each other in the quarters.
RSL and the Crew will certainly avoid each other in the quarterfinals if both finish first or both wind up second in their respective groups.
Finishing in first place guarantees a home game in the second leg of the home-and-home quarterfinal series. However, RSL manager Jason Kreis has said that reward is still not worth the while to field his strongest side against Cruz Azul on Tuesday.
“Once you’re dealing with those eight teams left, they’re all going to be good,” Kreis told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Only Real Salt Lake, Cruz Azul and Monterrey have booked their spot in the next round. The remaining five qualifiers will be known this week.