Get used to the current and put together for a really completely different future. The Concacaf Champions League is present process one other seismic change come 2023.
Full particulars right here. Watch the video beneath, I promise it helps. Learn Jeff Carlisle’s breakdown for ESPN, too. It answered most of my remaining questions. The above-the-fold information is a massive growth of the field and the buzzword is regionalization by way of the return of the much-beloved/often-maligned group stage and creation of new Central American and Caribbean Cups to replace the Concacaf League and Caribbean Club Championship.
I find it irresistible as a result of I really like Concacaf – extra video games, extra golf equipment, extra must-win moments, extra CCL – nevertheless it’s actually not good and there are nonetheless a host of unknowns. Earlier than I provide you with my winners (and one loser), right here’s my try at a keep-it-simple-stupid clarification for a competition and qualification course of (extra on that in a second!) that’s going to test even the sharpest amongst us.
Regionalized group stage within the fall, bringing 34 extra teams into the combo. Knockout round within the spring, similar as earlier than. Champion goes to the FIFA Club World Cup. Satan is within the particulars.
- 50 teams qualify for the group stage by way of domestic leagues and cup competitions – 20 from North America, 20 from Central America, 10 from the Caribbean
- Three pods, separated by area, made up of groups of 5 enjoying unbalanced schedules of 4 video games, two home and two away
- 11 North American teams qualify for the knockout round – Group winners, runners-up and three play-in winners
- 4 Central American teams qualify for the knockout round – Group winners and runners-up should win play-in to qualify
- 1 Caribbean team qualifies for the knockout round – Group winners advance to play-in to qualify
- Round of 16 Knockout Round, similar format as current
And we nonetheless do not have concrete qualification paths! The winners, in no specific order.
Winner: Nerds and Pedants
I said it. You understand who you’re. I’m considered one of you.
All people is aware of a spreadsheet particular person. The couple who analyzes their grocery spending to the dime. The man who’s ready to pull up a evaluate and ranking for each beer he’s consumed within the past 5 years. The national team supporter who tracks and information the enjoying time and manufacturing of youth prospects.
Too close to home?
Fifty teams qualify for the group stage. 5. Zero. They’ve obtained to get in someway and given the overlap between league and cup qualification paths, there might be tiebreakers and numerous “if ____ then ____” statements wanted to type all of it out. That is earlier than we even know the qualification course of and paths to the group stage for a field that is greater than tripled.
It’s going to be an excellent mess, and the obsessives out there who additionally occur to like Concacaf are going to have a field day. Set up these FotMob alerts now! In fact, I’m all the way down to do a mock draw.
Winner: The Draw
Can I interest you in a high-stakes reside stream that options ping-pong balls, a bracket and a group of soccer golf equipment all through North America, Central America and the Caribbean?
I used to be already wanting forward to Feb. 10, the date of the 2021 draw, however think about if there have been 50 teams within the pot and we had been drawing not just for the opponent however the venue. Each single ball drop may change the course of the competition. Each single ball, assuming some sense of normalcy, would set far-flung away day plans in movement. That’s enjoyable.
I’ll repeat for these of you who skim or skip intro paragraphs: the group stage schedule is imbalanced. 5 teams per group. 4 video games. Play it out. You play each team in your group, however there isn’t a return leg. Thus, it really, really issues not solely who you draw however the place you play your group stage video games. Teams that go to Mexico are going to have an uphill climb. Teams that don’t or keep away from the giants of the area have an undeniably simpler path to the Round of 16.
Should-win video games? How a few must-win draw? I’ll purchase the beer in 2023 for the watch celebration.
Winner: Canadian Soccer
From one spot for MLS and lower-division sides (Canadian Championship) to three dedicated Canadian locations (CanChamp, plus two extra for the Canadian Premier League, which has one berth within the Concacaf League) is a massive bounce in illustration.
Just as importantly, Canadian golf equipment may even be capable to qualify by way of MLS competition (MLS Cup, Supporters’ Protect, conference standings and so on). It’s doable for all three of Toronto FC, CF Montreal and Vancouver Whitecaps FC to qualify for the group stage along with two CPL teams.
That’s an enormous alternative for Canadian membership soccer, each MLS and CPL.
Winner: Leagues Cup
Summer season soccer. Liga MX vs. MLS. Cats on the field. Now with a CCL place (locations?) on the road! Good match.
I solely half child, however something that will increase the stakes and makes coaches, players and followers care extra is undeniably an excellent factor. Leagues Cup has potential, however no history. Now it has each a sporting and monetary carrot on the end of the road.
The big query is whether or not the winner or each finalists qualify. Maybe the top-performing team from every league for a good cut up?
Winner: Major League Soccer & Liga MX
The area’s top leagues wish to compete against one another on the field and profit from one another off it. That is yet one more step forward in each regards.
The present format sends seven MLS and Liga MX teams into the Round of 16 by way of computerized qualification. That computerized quantity may as well be 9 because of MLS dominance of the U.S. Open Cup and Canadian Championship.
Within the new format, it’s seemingly MLS and Liga MX will send 11 teams to the Round of 16 every year, with solely CPL and, ought to they win the USOC, USL Championship golf equipment capable of spoil the celebration. That, together with the addition of the group stage, means extra MLS-Liga MX head-to-head matchups and extra alternatives to evaluate the leagues head-to-head. It means extra bites on the apple for MLS because it chases its first-ever title.
It means extra eyeballs on the video games and competition. It additionally means MLS has to deal with enterprise within the group stage. There is no time to round into kind. Each result’s going to change fates and the composition of the competition within the Round of 16.
Loser: Central American teams
The Caribbean retains their single computerized berth and added 9 teams by way of the group stage, however they lose the chance to compete against Central America and the CPL within the Concacaf League. I’d say missing out on cross-region competition is a loss, however I belief Arch Bell on these items.
Happy to see Caribbean football get much more individuals within the new Concacaf Champions League format. Nations League initiative has helped Caribbean football on the national team level, and now the expanded CCL will assist on the membership level.
— Arch Bell (@ArchBell) February 4, 2021
Nevertheless, I don’t suppose you possibly can argue that Central American teams got here out on top.
Within the 2020 model of CCL, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala sent six teams to the Round of 16 by way of the Concacaf League. Panamanian teams have been there within the past. UNCAF will broaden their qualifiers to twenty by way of the group stage, however they’ll solely send 4 of these representatives to the knockout round. That’s a disgrace, particularly given the upsets sprung in earlier tournaments (Olimpia eliminating Seattle, for example, or CAI over Toronto FC).
Now, like for the Caribbean, the new regional cup could possibly be a big regional optimistic. However the Concacaf Cup largely served that function and dropping two berths within the knockout round absolutely stings.