NEW YORK – The two MLS survivors in the CONCACAF Champions League will meet in the quarterfinals, as defending MLS Cup champions Real Salt Lake were drawn against the Columbus Crew on Monday.
The home-and-home quarterfinal series will take place over two legs, with Columbus hosting the first match in the end of next February and the return match to be held at Rio Tinto in March. RSL earned the right to play the second leg at home as winners of Group A, while Columbus finished second in Group B.
The results of the draw, unveiled by CONCACAF on Monday, also ensure that the winner of the all-MLS quarterfinal will avoid Mexican clubs in the semifinal. The team that advances between the Crew and RSL will face the winner of the quarterfinal series between Honduran club Olimpia and Costa Rican side Saprissa.
Columbus or RSL will host the first leg of the semifinal series and the second leg of an eventual final in April should one of the two MLS clubs advance that far.
On the other side of the bracket, the four Mexican sides remaining in the competition will do battle for a spot in the Champions League final. Toluca take on Monterrey and Cruz Azul meet Santos Laguna in the other two quarterfinals.
RSL and the Crew engaged in a memorable battle in the MLS Cup Playoffs last year as RSL eliminated Columbus over two legs in the first round on their way to winning their first league title.
The last time that two MLS teams faced each other in the knockout stage of the CONCACAF competition was back in the 2000 edition, when the LA Galaxy got by D.C. United on penalty kicks in the semifinals of the old CONCACAF Champions' Cup.
CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW
Quarterfinals (February 22-24 & March 1-3)
Toluca (MEX) vs. Monterrey (MEX)
Cruz Azul (MEX) vs. Santos Laguna (MEX)
Columbus Crew (USA) vs. Real Salt Lake (USA)
Saprissa (CRC) vs. Olimpia (HON)
Semifinals (March 15-17 & April 5-7)
Salt Lake-Columbus winner vs. Olimpia-Saprissa winner
Monterrey-Toluca winner vs. Santos-Cruz Azul winner
Finals (April 19-21 & April 26 & 28)
Santos-Cruz Azul/Monterrey-Toluca winner vs. Olimpia-Saprissa/Salt Lake-Columbus winner