CONCACAF Champions League 2019

As the year has ended in each domestic league, the regional CONCACAF Champions League and its draw finally happened on December 3rd. So what are the representatives from each member association or sub conference?

North American Football Union (NAFU)

Team from Canada: Toronto FC
Teams from Mexico: UANL Tigres, Santos Laguna, Monterrey, Toluca
Teams from the United States: Atlanta United, Sporting Kansas City, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls*

*Because of Toronto FC winning the Voyageurs Cup and taking that berth it was given to best aggregate record for a US-based team as Toronto filled the Canadian berth. It was not given to Atlanta because of the team winning the 2018 MLS Cup over Portland, therefore it was given to the best aggregate record in the Eastern Conference and that was the New York Red Bulls.

Unión Centroamericana de Fútbol (UNCAF)

Teams from Costa Rica: Deportivo Saprissa, Club Sport Herediano (Winners of the CONCACAF League)
Team from El Salvador: Alianza
Team from Guatemala: Guastatoya
Team from Honduras: Marathón
Team from Panama: Club Atlético Independiente de la Charroya (CAI)

Caribbean Football Union (CFU)
Team from Dominican Republic: Atlético Pantoja (Winners of the Caribbean Club Cup)

Pairings for the first round (All times Eastern Time)

Santos Laguna vs Marathón
First Leg at Marathón February 20th, 2019, 8pm, Estadio General Fransisco Morazan/ Estadio Metropolitano Olímpico, San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Second Leg:  at Santos Laguna February 27th, 2019, 8pm, Estadio Corona, Torreón, Coahuila, México
New York Red Bulls vs Atlético Pantoja
First Leg: at Atlético Pantoja February 20th, 2019 8pm, Estadio Olímpico Félix Sánchez, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Second Leg: at New York Red Bulls February 27th, 2019, 8pm, Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey, United States
UANL Tigres vs Saprissa
First Leg: at Saprissa  February 19th, 2019, 8pm, Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Áyma, San Juan de Tibas, San Jose, Costa Rica
Second Leg: UANL Tigres February 26th, 2019,10pm,  Estadio Universitario, San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León, México
Houston Dynamo vs Guastatoya
First Leg: at Guastatoya, February 19th, 2019, 10pm, Estadio David Cordón Hichos, Guastatoya, El Progreso, Guatemala
Second Leg: at Houston February 26th, 2019, 8pm  BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas, United States
Toluca vs Sporting Kansas City
First Leg: at Kansas City February 21st, 2018, 8pm, Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas, United States
Second Leg: at Toluca February 28th, 2018, 10pm  Estadio Nemesio Díez, Toluca, México, México
Toronto vs CAI
First Leg: at CAI, February 19th, 2019,  8pm, Estadio Agustín Sánchez, La Chorrera, Panamá, Panamá
Second Leg: at Toronto, February 26th, 2019, 8pm, BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Atlanta United vs Herediano
First Leg: at Herediano Febuary 21st, 2019, 10pm, Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero, Heredia, Heredia, Costa Rica
Second Leg: at Atlanta February 28th, 2019,8pm, Fifth Third Bank Stadium, Kennesaw, Georgia, United States
Monterrey vs Alianza
First Leg: at Alianza February 20th, 2018, 10pm, Estadio Cuscatlán, San Salvador, El Salvador
Second Leg: at Monterrey February 27th, 2018, 10pm, Estadio BBVA Bancomer, Guadalupe, Nuevo León, Mexico

My Predictions

Santos Laguna vs Marathón
Santos will advance easily. It is not as unheard of as a Honduran team to win against a Mexican team but in this competition the two are too apart to be even. Keep in mind Santos won Liga MX against teams like Club America and UANL Tigres. This will be a close series because of Santos losing in the first round against Monterrey in the Liguilla.

Winner: Santos Laguna

New York Red Bulls vs Atlético Pantoja

The Red Bulls will win this series because in history there have not been any Caribbean teams winning against the MLS and also because the Red Bulls were the best team in the Eastern Conference in the regular season that included Atlanta United and NYCFC. Moreover, even after losing the semifinal to Atlanta, there is the element that the Red Bulls may adapt to the style of play of Atlético Pantoja.

Winner: NY Red Bulls

UANL Tigres vs Saprissa

Tigres is one of the powerhouses of Liga MX even though that they have been eliminated in the Liguilla, Saprissa also went out in the Semifinal stage of Apertura 2018 (Chance to win it in the Gran Final stage). Saprissa will most likely lose 6 strikers from May of 2018 as well as the overall team is old. Expect a score comparative to that of Club America in Costa Rica (5-1 and 1-1) at the end.

Winner: UANL Tigres

Houston Dynamo vs Guastatoya

First upset in my opinion. Why? mainly because the Guatemalan squad is playing better at this point in time, even leading a traditional power, Xelajú, by four points and also leading the major powerhouses that are Communicaciones  and Municipal by over 10 points . Whereas the Dynamo were 4th to last in the Western Conference as well as the MLS doesn’t play until March so, there is the fact that Guastatoya is in midseason form where the Dynamo is taking a break.

Winner: Guastatoya (by an aggregate of 1-2 goals or away goals)

Toluca vs Sporting KC

Toluca will be in midseason form and also the fact that generally they are one of the best teams in Mexico. Even though that Sporting KC is one of the best teams in the MLS.

Winner: Toluca (by a small amount of goals)

Toronto vs CAI

Toronto is not the same Toronto of years past. Toronto did horrible last MLS season and the fact that the MLS starts in March and not in February. Luckily for Toronto CAI did not have a good season but will have the advantage of being in season.

Winner: CAI (but in a small amount of a difference)

Atlanta United vs Herediano

Herediano is currently in the grand final against Saprissa, and has come back in order to qualify. Atlanta is in the same boat as the team won their first ever MLS Cup on December 8th. Moreover at home Herediano is dominant as they have not lost a game all season at home and had to rally to tie Motagua in Honduras in the CONCACAF League final and is going to be headed by Hernan Medford who has won the Champions League in 2005 with fellow Costa Rican club Saprissa. Atlanta has the disadvantage of playing away first and also to not be in midseason form. Also Atlanta’s coach, Tata Martino will leave after December 8th.

Winner: Herediano by a small margin. In the second leg, Atlanta will win but it will not be enough to overcome the first leg result.

Monterrey vs Alianza

Monterrey will win this series but it will be closer than what people think it will. Currently Alianza FC is top of the table in the El Salvadorian league above teams like CD FAS and last year’s participant Santa Tecla FC.

Winner: Monterrey

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