The 2018 CONCACAF Champions League will be formatted as a single-elimination knockout tournament featuring 16 teams. This is changed from previous iterations of the tournament that featured 24 teams, as well as a group stage prior to the knockout tournament.
With the CCL kicking off today, I’ll take a look at each of the eight ties and break down each of the teams so you can have an understanding of what to expect from each of the teams.
C.S. Herediano vs Tigres UANL
Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero – Tuesday 20th February 2018 – 19:00 CT (Wednesday 21st February 2018 01:00 GMT)
Herediano are currently sat top of the Costa Rican Primera Division, and come into this match on a nine-game unbeaten run in the league. Tigres are currently sat middle of the Mexican Liga MX, they won the Apertura Tournament at the close of 2017 and won their last game in the league and will be looking to use that morale boost for momentum coming into this match.
Colorado Rapids vs. Toronto FC
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Tuesday 20th February 2018 – 21:00 CT (Wednesday 21st February 2018 03:00 GMT)
Reigning MLS Champions Toronto have travelled to Colorado for the first leg of the tie. With the CCL kicking off at the end of the offseason for these two MLS teams, neither will be in the sort of competitive form that teams from other leagues might have. Both teams have made roster changes since they last met during the last MLS season. With weather being a big issue in Colorado this week, we’ll see how either team can cope, though I do have Toronto slated to take this game home with an away goal advantage from a scored draw, if not outright winning it.
Tauro FC vs. FC Dallas
Estadio Rommel Fernandez – Wednesday 21st February 2018 – 19:00 CT (Thursday 22nd February 01:00 GMT)
Tauro are currently sat in the bottom half of the Liga Panemena de Futbol, having won their last game. They came out on top of the table in the Apertura tournament that ended last November but didn’t win the knockout tournament. FC Dallas are coming off a highly disappointing season that didn’t see them even qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs. They have retooled their back line and have some new attacking talent coming in, so the hope is that they can bounce back and put on the kind of performance we came to expect during the 2016 season.
Deportivo Saprissa vs. Club America
Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma – Wednesday 21st February 2018 – 19:00 CT (Thursday 22nd February 01:00 GMT)
Saprissa are in third in the Costa Rican Primera Division currently, sat two points behind league-leading Herediano. Saprissa are 15-2-3 at home in the league this season and they will be looking to lean on that impressive home form to pull one over America. America are currently sat first in Liga MX, having so far gone undefeated in the Liga MX this year. With a 9-5-5 record away from home, America will definitely be happy coming away with a draw but they’ll certainly be pushing for the away goal advantage.
F.C. Motagua vs. Club Tijuana
H-E-B Park – Wednesday 21st February 2018 – 21:00 CT (Thursday 22nd February 03:00 GMT)
Motagua are currently sat top of the Honduran Liga Nacional after nine-games played in the Clausura, boasting a 6-3-0 record in those games. Motagua have not lost a game at home since November 2016 and will be looking to build upon that excellent home form. Tijuana are sitting just inside the playoff spots in Liga MX and have not been able to hold a consistent run of form for a while now. More troubling still for them is that they have not managed to score an away goal since November of last year. Tijuana have just earned a big win in the league and will be looking to utilise that morale boost to get one over Motagua and bring the tie back home where they have been a lot more confident.
Cibao FC vs. C.D. Guadalajara
Estadio Cibao FC – Thursday 22nd February 2018 – 19:00 CT (Friday 23rd February 2018 01:00 GMT)
Having not played a competitive match since August last year, Cibao are gearing up for the start of the Dominican Liga Mayor. With several new signings, Cibao will look to bring back their league-topping form from last year against Guadalajara. Guadalara are currently sat third from bottom in Liga MX and are without a win in five games thanks to a dismal run of form. A resurgence for Guadalajara in this game could be a spike in league form as well as a good run in the CCL.
Santa Tecla F.C. vs Seattle Sounders FC
Estadio Las Delicias – Thursday 22nd February 2018 – 21:00 CT (Friday 23rd February 2018 03:00 GMT)
Currently second in the El Salvadorian Primera Division, Santa Tecla have only won their most recent of the last three games with the other two being losses. This sort of inconsistent form will do them no favours against the visiting Sounders. Seattle are coming off a disappointing loss in the MLS Cup final and have added some new blood to an already solid team. They’ll be looking to kickstart their season with a win away from home, but it will be difficult with their lack of competitive form.
Club Deportivo Olimpia vs. New York Red Bulls
Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica – Thursday 22nd February 2018 – 21:00 CT (Friday 23rd February 2018 03:00 GMT)
Sat second in the Honduran Liga Nacional, Olimpia have a 5-4-0 record in the league’s Clausura. They have struggled to keep clean sheets against better opposition teams in the league, and this is a problem when facing up against the high-flying attack of the Red Bulls. Speaking of, Red Bulls have added some solid attacking talent in this offseason and will be looking to see what these new players are capable of against international opponents. They’ll be looking to bounce back after just barely losing to the eventual MLS Cup Champions, Toronto, in the playoffs.