Champions League FAQ

WHAT IS CONCACAF?

CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) is the governing body under which the U.S. Soccer Federation, Federación Mexicana de Fútbol, and all other countries' federations in the region fall under. Major League Soccer is under the U.S. Soccer Federation umbrela. (See international soccer org chart to the right)


WHAT IS THE CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE?

The CONCACAF Champions League is the premier event for 24 clubs from the respective Federations, and serves as the qualifying tournament for the FIFA Club World Cup. Each country's federation under CONCACAF is allocated a certain number of spots for their clubs to participate in the Champions League (see below). The annual Champions League tournament runs from July through the followin April. The 2009-2010 Champions League is currently in the quarterfinal stage.

The FIFA Club World Cup pits the winner of the CONCACAF Champions League, the winner of the UEFA Champions League, the winner of South America's Copa Libertadores, and the winners of the Africa, Asia, and Oceana Champions Leagues against each other to determine the best club in the world. Also held yearly, the tournament takes place each December.

MORE: CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE OFFICIAL SITE


HOW DO TEAMS QUALIFY FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE?

The 24 berths in the 2011-2012 CONCACAF Champions League field are divided among the three sub-regions of the confederation, with 12 reserved for Central America, nine for North America, and three for the Caribbean.

The United States and Mexico received fourth berths each: the MLS regular season champion (Supporters' Shield winner - LA Galaxy) and MLS Cup winner (Colorado Rapids), both of which are placed automatically into the Group Stage, and the U.S. Open Cup winner (Seattle Sounders) and MLS Cup runner-up (FC Dallas).

Mexico also is granted four berths. Apertura and Clausura champions are entered directly into the Group Stage while the runners-up are put into the Preliminary Round.

Canada determines its champion and Preliminary Round berth through the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

The Caribbean is allotted three berths and qualifies its teams in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Champions Cup.

The remainder and bulk of the berths are reserved for Central America, with two berths allocated to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama, and one each for Belize and Nicaragua.


WHICH TEAMS HAVE QUALIFIED FOR THE 2011-2012 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE?

NORTH AMERICA (9)
United States (4): Los Angeles Galaxy*, Seattle Sounders, Colorado Rapids*, FC Dallas
Mexico (4): Monterrey*, Santos Laguna, Pumas UNAM, Morelia
Canada (1): Toronto FC or Vancouver Whitecaps

CARIBBEAN (3)
CFU Club Champions Cup (3): TO BE DETERMINED FROM - Alpha United (Guyana), Defence Force (Trinidad & Tobago), Puerto Rico Islanders (Puerto Rico Islanders), Tempete (Haiti)

CENTRAL AMERICA (12)
Costa Rica (2): Alajuelense*, Herediano
El Salvador (2): Isidro Metapan, Alianza FC
Guatemala (2): Comunicaciones*, Municipal
Honduras (2): Real Espana*, Motagua, Olimpia**
Nicaragua (1): (tbd). Walter Ferreti or Real Espana
Panama (2): Tauro FC*, San Francisco

* automatically qualified for Group Stage
** spot given to Honduras from Belize, which lacks a suitable playing facility

HOW IS THE TOURNAMENT STRUCTURED?

The Champions League is played in three stages, the Preliminary Round, Group Stage, and Championship Round. The berths for the 24 teams are allocated by country, or in the case of the Caribbean, by region (see above).

The 16 Preliminary Round teams face off in two-leg playoffs in late July / early August. The pairings are determined by draw, and the eight winners advance to the group stage. A draw will also divide the teams for the Group Stage. No two teams from the same country may play each other in the Preliminary Round or Group Stage.

Two teams from each of the four-team Groups advance to the quarterfinals, with each group winner drawn to face a runner-up from one of the other groups. The draw which establishes the quarterfinal pairings also determines the potential semifinal matches.


COLORADO RAPIDS HISTORY IN THE TOURNAMENT

The tournament began in 1962 as the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Prior to the 2008-2009 edition, CONCACAF changed the name to the the Champions League and with it made modifications to the format by adding teams, creating a qualification round, group play format, and two-leg elimination play in the later stages.

Colorado's first and only appearance in the tournament was in 1998, when the club qualified by virtue of being MLS Cup runner-up in 1997. The Rapids were drawn to play Club Leon - runner-up of Mexico's Winter Tournament - in a qualifying round, with the winner advancing the Quarterfinals.

JUNE 28, 1998: First-leg at Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado. Three days after representing the United States in the final game of the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, Colorado Rapids captain Marcelo Balbao was back in Denver to score the lone goal for the Rapids with seven minutes to play to defeat his former team.

Scoring Summary:
COL - Marcelo Balboa 83'

Rapids Lineup: Marcus Hahnemann, Sean Henderson, Peter Vermes, Steve Trittschuh, Chris Martinez, Chris Henderson, Taj Jankins,  Ross Paule (Joey DiGiamarino 87), Adrian Paz, Wolde Harris (Marquis White 71),Waldir (Marcelo Balboa 71)

Attendance: 7,442

JULY 15, 1998: Second-leg at Estadio Leon, Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico.  Colorado held strong for the first 30 minutes of the match, but the floodgates then opened up with Leon scoring three times before the break. The Rapids pulled back twice to within one goal, but could not score the equalizer and were eliminated 4-3 on aggregate.

Scoring Summary:
LEON - Bejines 30'
LEON - Romero 38'
LEON - Own Goal (Steve Trittshuch) 42'
COL - Steve Trittshuh 45'
LEON - Cadenas 53'
COL - Paul Bravo 69'

Rapids Lineup: Marcus Hahnemann, Sean Henderson, Peter Vermes, Steve Trittschuh, Chris Martinez, Chris Henderson, Marcelo Balboa, Boyce (Joey DiGiamarino 58), Ross Paule (Marquis White 70), Paul Bravo, Wolde Harris (Waldir 60).

MORE: History of the tournament (MLSsoccer.com)