MLS and CONCACAF announced today that the Preliminary Round of the CONCACAF Champions League will start on July 27th. The draw for opponents will be held June(ish). Over the winter break though we have learned a few of the teams that Sounders could draw. These are not firm enough to decide that you must book a flight down to Central America in late July, but Brujas FC of Costa Rica joined Arabe Unido of Panama and CD FAS of El Salvador as possible Pot B teams.
One of the myths of the CCL is that it will cause fixture congestion. This will only be true if the Sounders manage to make it past the Preliminary Round. Otherwise it is merely two more matches. This isn't the only myth though, generaly when the CCL comes up some that like to deride MLS, or those that root for USL sides like to point out the failures of MLS on that stage compared to the USL and Mexican teams. Only one of those statements is correct.
MLS can not beat Mexican squads. No one in the region really can. In UEFA they use coefficients to determine how many teams a nation enters into the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, and at what stages. Someone has done that same math for CONCACAF.
Mexico comes out clearly ahead, but the USA (MLS) sits in second in a chunk with Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Honduras. Canada, despite that great run by the Montreal Impact, sits at 7th. Yes, PR and Canada have both received representation from USL sides (and others) but anyone treating the success of the Islanders or Impact as an indicator of some sort of equivalence between the USL/NASL/USSF divisions ignores matches where the two leagues interact, while ignoring that in the past two CCL seasons there were only 4 matches between "2nd Division" and "1st Division" sides in the CCL, but there were 31 other competitive matches.
That's where we will look, the US Open Cup, the Voyageurs Cup and the CCL matches that involve competition between MLS sides and other teams governed by the USSF (USL/NASL in USA, Canada, PR and Bermuda). 35 matches over the last two seasons, and while teams like the USL Seattle Sounders made a run, or two, it wasn't really a contest.
MLS sides outscored their opponents by over half a goal per match, and earned 1.71 points per match played.
I could massage numbers dropping Toronto FC, or not including the top clubs, but there is no need. The difference is significant. No, not as significant as the difference between the EPL and its lower divisions.
The CCL though is not about comparing MLS to the 2nd division, it is about an attempt at making the Club World Cup, and there's only 1 way to do that BEAT MEXICAN teams. Check those coefficient numbers again. It doesn't happen.
In fact its been 10 years since an MLS side was in Final of a version of the CCL, and only 3 times in the League's history have they done that. The chances that Seattle Sounders FC significantly stretch their roster from the CCL is pretty low, but the payoff for doing it is incredibly high. CONCACAF teams have finished 4th in 3 of the last 4 years and earned 2M$ while getting just a bit of national exposure. Five years ago though, Saprissa finished third. Yep, the last non-FMF team to make the Club World Cup finished 3rd.
So don't get distracted by "fixture congestion," and certainly don't focus on the minor clubs in this tourney. With rumored signings of Costa Rican Defenders, and Israeli Forwards it isn't about fixture congestion. It is about finding ways to beat Monterey, Cruz Azul, and likely a Saprissa or a Pachuca or America or Chivas.
Not rest. Not rotations.
Beating the best teams in the region on their home pitch. That's it.