For 4 MLS Clubs, Champions League Is A Welcomed Sight

Besides MLS and US Open Cup games, four clubs are preparing to advance in the CCL.
by Katherine Rupp   |   Thursday, February 18, 2016

Major League Soccer kicks off for the 2016 edition of the league in about a month and though most teams are focused on the MLS Regular Season, there are four MLS clubs also looking at another competition that starts February 23rd and 24th. The CONCACAF Champions League pits DC United, Seattle Sounders, Real Salt Lake, and the LA Galaxy against four Liga MX clubs.

Last year in 2015, Montreal Impact gave MLS fans a real hope that a Major League Soccer team would finally win the CCL and head to the Club World Cup. There were many great goals and assists in the Impact vs. Club America CCL Final, but Montreal ended up running out of steam during the second leg.

Having Montreal participate in the CCL Final was exciting for MLS fans since the last time an MLS team was in the Final was Real Salt Lake in 2011. Because of the nature of the tournament and the fact that no MLS teams have won should only spur on the four vying for a run in the CCL.

Regardless of the hopes of the MLS nation resting on the four teams in this year’s CCL, there are four incredibly strong Liga MX teams that often steamroll the competition and go on to the Club World Cup. Queretaro, Club America, Tigres, and Santos Laguna will take on the MLS clubs. A few things that may help any of the MLS teams beat any of the four Mexican teams, besides a solid and structured team that is managed well by the coach, are knowing the growing finances the further a club gets in the tourney as well as being able to play some of the best clubs in the world once the winner advances.

So what MLS team is the most capable, with coaching, staff, and players on the squad, to win the CCL this year? It’s a tough question but out of DC, Seattle, Salt Lake, and LA, it’s looking like the Galaxy, followed by Seattle, have the strongest teams. Although Salt Lake has been to the CCL Final before, the team hasn’t been as tenacious or stable as previous years. And though DC has been more of a solid team in the past two or three years in MLS, the squad depth may not be there for DC United this year, especially when considering not only MLS and CCL, but the US Open Cup.

Why Seattle or LA, then? The Sounders have a great amount of experience on the team, plus a few newbies (a la USMNTer Jordan Morris) who may want to prove something; while LA has quite a few older players, the respect for them (Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane, Ashley Cole), is huge, and the younger players like Homegrown Player Gyasi Zardes, and the ever-skillful Robbie Rogers have something to strive for besides an MLS Cup.

Regardless of what MLS team (or teams) continue on to beat their respective Liga MX opponents, this year’s CCL tourney will showcase talent and skill, heart and desire. Especially if one – or all – MLS teams advance, the Concacaf Champions League matches will definitely be something to put on the calendar to watch besides MLS games. 

Katherine RUPP

Nationality:
USA
College:
Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.
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