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Field in group stage expanded to 24 teams
by Paul Kennedy, January 12th, 2012 3:21PM

TAGS:  concacaf champions league, mls


[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Concacaf has changed the format for its Concacaf Champions League, announcing plans to scrap the preliminary round and place all 24 entrants in the group stage, beginning with the 2012-13 edition.

In the previous four tournaments, 16 teams met in eight preliminary-round pairings with the series winners joining eight-seeded teams in four groups of four in the group stage. The top two teams in each group moved on to the knockout stage.

Beginning next season, the 24 teams will be divided into eight groups of three and the group winners will move into the quarterfinals.

Teams will now play four games instead of six in the group stage, a move that will please MLS clubs who must fit Concacaf games into the second half of their league schedules.

"This new format will streamline the first phase of the competition," said Ted Howard, Concacaf's acting general secretary.  "It will alleviate schedule congestion on both domestic and international calendars."

The teams will be distributed into three categories for purposes of the draw as follows:

Category 1: Mexico 1 & 2, USA 1 & 2, Costa Rica 1, Guatemala 1, Honduras 1, Panama 1
Category 2: Mexico 3 & 4, USA 3 & 4, Canada 1, Costa Rica 2, El Salvador 1, Honduras 2
Category 3: Belize 1 (pending approval of suitable stadium), El Salvador 2, Guatemala 2, Nicaragua 1, Panama 2, CFU 1, 2 & 3.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: January 13, 2012 at 8:26 a.m.
    It could happen if these MLS team keep on stocking up on all this Hispanic talent like they have been doing lately. Very smart. Better players with a strong fan base.
  1. Phil Love
    commented on: January 13, 2012 at 8:51 a.m.
    Expansion? WTF? The competition is "streamlined" for whom? Yet another example of the ridiculous amount of power in CONCACAF helf by the Caribbean countries. Now we can experience the excitement of MLS teams crowding their schedules with games against the champions of those high-powered Carribean leagues. On the positive side, club supporters will have some nice Caribbean travel opportunities.
  1. Rafael Bosque
    commented on: January 13, 2012 at 9:29 a.m.
    Sorry Phil Love. About "those high-powered Caribbean leagues." Do you remember LA Galaxy against the Puerto Rico Islanders at the Home Depot in 2010? Final score Islanders 4, LA 1. You can see the recap And I remember a lot of teams from Trinidad, Jamaica and Haiti taking care of MLS teams. Again, the Puerto Rico Islanders against Toronto FC in 2009. PR Islanders 1 - Toronto 0. I love MLS but my Islanders is the best team in the caribbean and they have take care of teams is this tourment like Tauro, Alajuense, Maratón, Santos Laguna. etc. Every country can dream and is an equal opportunity for 90 minutes for every team.
  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: January 13, 2012 at 12:14 p.m.
    Yes, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Erica, Honduras have some teams with a deep history and some of them compete with MLS salary wise as well. There is still an El Salvador team alive in the Champions currently.

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