Countdown to CONCACAF: 6 days

Only six days away from RSL at C.S. Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the logistics of RSL’s group and the tournament itself. Quick programming note before we dive in, though. I had the pleasure of recording a pre-CCL podcast with James Edward of the Deseret News, Michael Black of and Jeremy Horton of today. That will go live some time tomorrow. Be sure to give it a listen. 

On to the good stuff:

New format                                                                                                                      

CONCACAF made big changes to the CCL this winter, eliminating the old Preliminary Round – in which 16 teams would face off in a home-and-home series – and putting all 24 of the qualifying sides directly into the Group Stage. The teams have been organized into eight groups of three squads each. Every team will play four games in the Group Stage – a home-and-home series against the other two teams in the group – with only the top team advancing to the quarterfinals.

The new format is a big change from what RSL experienced during the 2010-2011 Group Stage. That tournament had four groups of four teams each in the Group Stage. Every team played six Group Stage games and the top two teams from each group – RSL won theirs – advanced to the quarterfinals.  

The changes to the format mean that every Group Stage game carries an added importance, as the mathematical odds of moving into the Knockout Stage are lower when only one out of three teams advances than when two out of four teams advance.

Group 2 info

Real Salt Lake is in Group 2 with Costa Rican champions C.S. Herediano and Panamanian champs Tauro F.C. It’s one of the tougher groups in the tournament, but RSL certainly has a good chance of advancing into the Knockout Stage.

Both Herediano and Tauro are still in preseason and have experienced roster turnover during their summer break. Chances are neither squad will be completely comfortable with their new roster when they face RSL for the first time in the Group Stage – and they definitely won’t be in midseason form. Here’s to hoping the Claret-and-Cobalt can take advantage.