What, exactly, is the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, you ask?
With New York set to take on C.D. Guadalajara in the Semifinals of the tournament, get to know the SCCL to make sure you’re up to speed as the Red Bulls attempt to make history.
The Champions League is an annual continental club soccer competition organized and run by Concacaf for the top soccer clubs in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The winner of the Concacaf Champions League tournament qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup.
The competition dates back to 1962, when it was originally known as the CONCACAF Champions' Cup. D.C. United (1998) and Los Angeles Galaxy (2000) are the only United Stated clubs to win this edition of the tournament.
It underwent an overhaul in 2008, changing the way clubs qualified for the tournament and increasing the number of teams that participate. Another change took place for this edition of the tournament, incorporating the new Concacaf League.
Sixteen teams qualify for the Concacaf Champions league. Nine from North America, at least five from Central America and at least one from the Caribbean. The last spot goes to the winner of the Concacaf League. The teams are drawn into a bracket, beginning with the Round of 16, with two-legged home-and-away series deciding each round through the final.
Since 1962, the tournament has been won by 28 different clubs. Guadalajara won the first edition of the tournament in '62.
Of the North American teams, Canada gets one spot, while the United States and Mexico each are given four spots. The US spots are determined based off success in domestic competitions: The previous year's winner of the MLS cup is given an automatic spot, the winner of the MLS Supporter's Shield gets the second spot, while the third spot goes to the regular-season champions in the opposite conference to the Shield winner and the fourth berth is awarded to the winner of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
In the current edition of the tournament, only five MLS clubs have made the semifinals. Real Salt Lake lost in the 2010-2011 Champions League Final, while the Montreal Impact lost in the 2014-2015 Final.
This is both Guadalajara and New York's first foray into the semifinals of the current Concacaf Champions League.
- GET TO KNOW: C.D. Guadalajara
After winning the Eastern Conference in 2016, New York Red Bulls were rewarded with a berth to the 2017-2018 Concacaf Champions League as their third overall appearance in the tournament. The Red Bulls’ first match up came on February 22 against C.D. Olimipia, who qualified after winning the 2017 Concacaf League. After a 1-1 Leg 1 draw at a neutral site in Costa Rica, New York carried the away goal back to Red Bull Arena and won the return leg, 2-0, with goals coming from Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sean Davis.
Advancing to the quarterfinals, New York faced off against Club Tijuana, who qualified for the tournament with the best regular season record in Liga MX's 2017 Clausura. After a strong display from goalkeeper Luis Robles, Red Bulls scored twice to win 2-0 in the first-leg at Estadio Caliente Stadium. New York became the first MLS team to ever score two away goals on Mexican ground -- and just the third team in MLS history to win in Mexico in 49 games (3-38-8). Red Bulls continued the strong momentum during Leg 2 at Red Bull Arena, beating Tijuana 3-1, with a 5-1 overall aggregate victory moving them into the semifinals.
Meeting New York in the semifinals will be the team most commonly known as "Chivas." The Liga MX 2017 Clausura Champions first faced Cibao in the round-of-16. Over the two legs, Chivas won convincingly 7-0 on aggregate, with goals from six different players. In the quarterfinals, Chivas faced MLS side Seattle Sounders. After losing the first leg in Seattle, 1-0, Chivas scored three goals in the return leg to win 3-1 on aggregate. Chivas will enter the game against the Red Bulls with a +9 goal differential across the Champions League matches.
The two sides will face off in Leg 1 on April 4 at 10 p.m. ET in Estadio Akron, while Leg 2 will take place at Red Bull Arena on April 10 at 8 p.m. ET.
Fans can buy tickets online at newyorkredbulls.com/tickets or by calling 1-877-727-6223 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET. (Tickets to Red Bulls vs. Guadalajara are available as part of a three-match plan, including any two MLS matches at Red Bull Arena. Tickets can be included for games against Carlos Vela’s Los Angeles Football Club and David Villa’s New York City FC, among others.)