FanPost

CCL Changes and the Sounders

CONCACAF announced major changes to the 2012-13 CCL format today. No longer will there be any play-in games. All 24 teams advance directly to group play. Group play itself is also significantly changed. The 2011-12 group play saw four groups with four teams each battle it out with the top two from each group advancing. 2012-13 will be completely different. The 24 teams will be divided into eight groups containing three teams each. Only the top team in each group will continue on to the knock-out rounds in the Spring of 2013.

The selection of the three teams for each group will be drawn using the following seeding:

#1 Seeds: Mexico 1, Mexico 2, USA 1, USA 2, Costa Rica 1, Guatemala 1, Honduras 1, Panama 1

#2 Seeds: Mexico 3, Mexico 4, USA 3, USA 4, Canada 1, Costa Rica 2, Honduras 2, El Salvador 1

#3 Seeds: Belize 1 (pending stadium approval), El Salvador 2, Nicaragua 1, Guatemala 2, Panama 2, Caribbean 1, Caribbean 2, Caribbean 3

In selecting each group, the following rules apply*:

  • No two teams from the same country may be placed together in a group
  • Each group must contain 1 team from either the US or Mexico

    * These rules would not apply to a wildcard team if one were needed to replace a qualifying team if that team is unable to participate for some reason (no suitable stadium, lack of funds, etc)

These changes are designed to significantly reduce schedule congestion - and they certainly DO accomplish that goal. In 2011-12 each team had to play a minimum of six games (eight if they, like the Sounders, did not go straight to group play) before becoming eligible to advance to the knock-out rounds. This year that will be reduced to just four, with only two on the road/out of the country. The takeaway will be a much easier path for US-based MLS teams to the knock-out stages. Barring the introduction of a wildcard team, a team such as the Sounders will avoid facing any Mexican sides in group play, and will have a very solid chance at advancing.

The downside of this new format is that there will likely be a great deal more disparity of quality between groups. The luck of the draw becomes a much bigger deal. A really good draw, for example, might be Seattle Sounders FC, Metapan, Joe Public. A bad draw might land a group such as Seattle Sounders FC, Alajuelense, Tauro .. or Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC/Montreal/Vancouver, Municipal with one of the Canadian MLS teams finally putting together a better run (I keep waiting for it ... they have talent ... sooner or later it is bound to happen).

There are many berths that will be decided this spring/summer, including the Canadian winner and the various Clausura champions. It is unclear to me how the 1 vs 2 seeds will be decided for countries with Apertura/Clausura systems, as those are basically two separate seasons. I'm guessing overall points for the two combined? Here are the seeds as they currently exist.

#1 Seeds:

Tigres UANL

'12 Mexican Clausura Champion

LA Galaxy

Seattle Sounders FC

Alajuelense/'12 Costa Rican Clausura Champion?

Municipal/'12 Guatemalan Clausura Champion?

Olimpia/'12 Honduras Clausura Champion?

Chorillo FC/'12 Panamian Clausura Champion?

#2 Seeds:

Santos Laguna

'12 Mexican Clausura Runner-Up

Real Salt Lake

Houston Dynamo

'12 Nutrilite Candadian Champion

Alajuelense/'12 Costa Rican Clausura Champion?

Olimpia/'12 Honduras Clausura Champion?

Metapan/'12 El Salvadorian Clausura Champion?

#3 Seeds:

Belize Champion (pending approval of suitable stadium)

Metapan/'12 El Salvadorian Clausura Champion?

Municipal/'12 Guatemalan Clausura Champion?

Nicaraguan Champion

Chorillo FC/'12 Panamian Clausura Champion?

2012 CFU Club Championship Winner

2012 CFU Club Championship Runner-Up

2012 CFU Club Championship 3rd Place


What do you think of this new format? Who would you like to see the Sounders draw?

FanPosts only represent the opinions of the poster, not of Sounder at Heart.

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