After going through two weeks of the Qualifying Round and six weeks of the group stage around a period of four months, CONCACAF has finally made their draw for the knockout stages of the Champions League. All four sides from Mexico along with two MLS sides and a club from Costa Rica and Honduras all waited with baited breath to find out who will be playing who.
After waiting all day on Monday to find out what the secret draw would uncover for these eight sides, there has finally been confirmation on the official website of CONCACAF. All I can say is that we got ourselves a hell of a bracket and I can’t stop laughing. On the left side we have all four sides from Mexico facing each other, while on the other side we have both MLS sides facing each other while the two Central American sides will face each other.
Let’s re-Cap how this situation happened. In Group A both Real Salt Lake and Cruz Azul were going to the knockout stage, but in their second group match these two sides faced each other at Rio Tinto Stadium and it was RSL who won the group. In Group B Santos Laguna won the group and eliminated Municipal before the Crew got a chance to play. Monterrey won Group C while Deportivo Saprissa of Costa Rica got the second position; finally Olimpia of Honduras won Group D which put Toluca in second.
So the Quarterfinal match ups are set and I believe it will be a fun time when February of next year comes around. Group C winner Monterrey faces Group D second place Toluca, while Group B winner Santos Laguna faces Group A second place Cruz Azul. On the other side of the bracket Group A winner Real Salt Lake faces Group B second place Columbus Crew, while Group D winner Olimpia faces Group C second place Deportivo Saprissa.
Of course all matches in the knockout stages are goal aggregate with the away goals rule, with the exception of extra time unless a match does go that far after regulation in the second leg. For the last two Champions League tournaments the final has always been two sides from Mexico, but now it looks like there will be one from Mexico and the other from somewhere else in the confederation.
2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal Schedule
First Leg: February 22-24
Toluca hosts Monterrey
Cruz Azul hosts Santos Laguna
Columbus Crew hosts Real Salt Lake
Deportivo Saprissa hosts Olimpia
Second Leg: March 1-3
Monterrey hosts Toluca
Santos Laguna hosts Cruz Azul
Real Salt Lake hosts Columbus Crew
Olimpia hosts Deportivo Saprissa
2010-11 Champions League Semi-Finals & Final dates
First Leg: March 15-17
RSL/Crew Winner Hosts Olimpia/Saprissa Winner
Monterrey/Toluca Winner Hosts Santos Laguna/Cruz Azul Winner
Second Leg: April 5-7
Olimpia/Saprissa Winner Hosts RSL/Crew Winner
Santos Laguna/Cruz Azul Winner Hosts Monterrey/Toluca Winner
Final First Leg: April 19-21
Final Second Leg: April 26-28