For one team, this two-legged tie will be the start of their journey to the CONCACAF Champions League trophy. On Tuesday evening, the tournament starts for the 16 teams that have qualified. Eight nations are represented in the tournament, with a Mexican side having gone on to win the competition every year since 2006.
The Round of 16 sees one all-MLS tie, as the Canadian entry into the tournament, Toronto FC, will face the Colorado Rapids over two legs. Elsewhere, FC Dallas face a trip to Panama, while the Red Bulls will play a Honduran side in Costa Rica. The final team from the States is Seattle, and the Sounders will travel to El Salvador for the first leg of their tie.
Saprissa (CRC) v Club América (MEX)
Two of the most successful teams in the competition face off in the Round of 16 this year. Saprissa have won the CONCACAF Champions League on three occasions, most recently back in 2005. Club America have won the competition a record seven times, including back-to-back victories in 2014/15 and 2015/16.
The two sides have faced off just once in the history of the tournament, despite having ten title between them. Club America beat Saprissa 5-0 on aggregate three seasons ago. That win in the quarter finals sent them on the way to their sixth title, before winning it again in 2015/16.
The first leg will be played on Wednesday evening at 8pm CST, a 2am kick off on Thursday in the UK. The game will be played at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma, which holds over 23,000.
Tauro (PAN) v FC Dallas (USA)
FC Dallas travel to Panama this week for the first leg of their R16 tie in this year’s competition. They take on a Tauro side who had never made it past the group stage on their five previous appearances in the most recent version of the tournament. FC Dallas got as far as the semi-finals last season, before losing out to the eventual winners, Pachuca.
The two sides have met before in the CONCACAF Champions League, back in 2011/12. The two sides drew the first game, before Tauro won an eight-goal thriller in Panama. The 5-3 win ended FC Dallas’ run in the competition, with both sides failing to make it out of the group stage.
Estadio Rommel Fernandez is the largest stadium in the nation of Panama, and it will play host to the first leg this Wednesday evening. the 45,000 capacity stadium will see the game kick off at 8pm, a 1am start for British fans on Thursday morning.
Colorado Rapids (USA) v Toronto FC (CAN)
The only all-MLS clash of the first round sees the Colorado Rapids face off with Toronto FC. The visitors have won the Canadian Championship a record six times, and have done so for the previous two seasons to secure their qualification to this year’s CCL. They also won the MLS Cup in 2017, while the Rapids finished the season in 10th in the Western Conference. This is the Rapids second appearance in the tournament, while Toronto are in the CCL for the fifth time, having reached the semi finals back in 2011/12.
The Rapids and Toronto face off every season in MLS, but the two sides have never met in the CONCACAF Champions League. The game between the sides last year finished as a 1-1 in the league, but the Rapids have won three of their last five games against Toronto.
The game kicks off at 3am, Wednesday, here in the UK, with an 8pm kick off time scheduled in Colorado for Tuesday evening. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park plays host, with a capacity of 18,000.
Herediano (CRC) v Tigres UANL (MEX)
The 2016 Liga MX Apertura Champions, Tigres UANL, travel to Costa Rica this week, in search of their first CONCACAF Champions League title. Last season, they lost in the final to Pachuca, a year on from doing the exact same thing, but to Club America. Twice they have got to the final, only to go and lose. Herediano, on the other hand, reached the semi finals in 2014/15, the furthest they have got in their seven previous appearances in the tournament.
The two sides have met in the group stages in the last two years, with Herediano not able to take more than a point away from a game against Tigres. They drew both games in the group stage of the 2015/16 tournament, with a 0-0 and a 1-1. However, Tigres scored six past Herediano during the 2016/17 season, beating the Costa Rican twice, with 3-0 and 3-1 victories.
The first leg is the first game of the tournament, kicking off at 1am on Wednesday morning for British fans, an 8pm kick off in Costa Rica. The Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero will play host to the first leg, with a possible 8,700 fans in attendance.
Motagua (HON) v Tijuana (MEX)
Neither side in this tie is relatively experienced in the CONCACAF Champions League with just four previous appearances between them. Tijuana are in the competition for just the second time, having reached the last four on their only other attempt, back in 2013/14. Motagua will be in the tournament for the fourth time, but never made it past the group stage, in the old format.
The two sides have never met in the competition, but Motagua have played Mexican opposition in the competition before. They lost to Club America two seasons ago, before losing both group games to Morelia in the 2011/12 season. Tijuana did win their one previous game in Honduras. They beat Victoria 6-0 in the group stages four seasons ago.
However, due to the current political and social situation in Honduras, the first leg of the tie has been relocated. It will now be played at H-E-B Park in Texas, USA, with a possible 10,000 watching the game on Wednesday evening. The game kicks off at 9pm CST, a 3am kick off in the UK.
Olimpia (HON) v New York Red Bulls (USA)
The New York Red Bulls are appearing in the CCL for the fourth time in their history, having reached the quarter finals last season, their best run in the competition. They face an Olimpia side who are the only ever-presents in the CONCACAF Champions League, since its rebrand in 2009. The Honduran side’s best showing in the tournament is also making it through to the last eight.
The two sides have never met in the competition, having always missed each other in the group stage draws in previous years. Olimpia did play against American opposition for four straight years, from 2012/13 onwards. However, they only managed two wins from their eight group games, with a 1-0 win over Seattle and 3-1 victory against Portland. They drew three and lost three of the eight matches played.
Like Motagua’s game, this one has also been relocated due to the political and social situation in Honduras. It will now be played at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica, but it will be played behind closed doors, as part of sanctions imposed on the Honduran side after an incident in the 2017 CCL. It kicks off at 9pm CST on Thursday evening, a 3am start on Friday morning for British fans.
Santa Tecla (ElS) v Seattle Sounders (USA)
The final MLS team playing this week is the Seattle Sounders, who travel to El Salvador for the first leg of their Round of 16 clash. This is Seattle’s fifth appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League, but they have never made it into the final, reaching the last four back in 2012/13. Santa Tecla, on the other hand, have only been in the tournament once before, and failed to make it out of the group stage.
Despite Seattle also being in the CCL for the one previous appearance of the Salvadoran side, the two did not meet. Santa Tecla did face American opposition that year, gaining a point from their two games against Real Salt Lake.
The game will kick off at 9pm CST on Thursday evening, a 3am start on the Friday morning in the UK. It will be played at the Estadio Las Delicias, which can hold up to 10,000.
Cibao (DOM) v Guadalajara (MEX)
The final game of the week sees the most inexperienced side make their debut in the competition. Cibao, from the Dominican Republic, have never entered the CONCACAF Champions League before, while Guadalajara have only made one previous appearance. They did not make it out of the group stage back in the 2012/13 version of the tournament.
The sides have never met in the competition, and it will be the first time that both sides have faced a team from their opponent’s respective nations. Cibao were only founded three years ago, but won the Caribbean Club Championship to make it into the CCL this year.
Estadio Cibao FC will host the match that will see their debut in the competition, with a possible 5,000 there to watch the match. It kicks off at 8pm AST on Thursday, a kick off time in the UK of 1am on Friday morning.
Order of First Leg Matches (British K.O. Times):
- Wednesday, 1am: Herediano v Tigres UANL
- Wednesday, 3am: Colorado Rapids v Toronto FC
- Thursday, 1am: Saprissa v Club América
- Thursday, 1am: Tauro v FC Dallas
- Thursday, 3am: Motagua v Tijuana
- Friday, 1am: Cibao v Guadalajara
- Friday, 3am: Olimpia v NY Red Bulls
- Friday, 3am: Santa Tecla v Seattle Sounders
Written by Matt Coles. (@MattJColes)