MIAMI — It’s quite easy to figure out which team the Red Bulls are rooting for to win MLS Cup. Easy — Atlanta United.
After getting the boot from a chance to host MLS Cup by Atlanta, the Red Bulls will hope the Georgia-based team prevails when it hosts the Portland Timbers in Saturday’s Major League Soccer championship game.
If Atlanta prevails, the Red Bulls will meet Club Atletico Pantoja (Dominica) in the first round of the Concacaf Champions League. If Portland wins, the Timbers will compete in the tournament.
The opening leg of the first round is set for Feb. 19-21, while the second leg is scheduled for Feb. 26-28.
When the recent two-year qualifying cycle kicked off, the four berths for the United States and one for Canada were allocated as follows:
2018 Canadian Championship winner (Toronto FC)
2017: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup winner (Sporting Kansas City)
2017: MLS Cup winner (Atlanta United)
2018: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup winner (Houston Dynamo)
2018: MLS Cup winner (TBD)
Because Toronto won the 2017 MLS Cup and a Canadian club couldn’t qualify by winning that championship, the berth was awarded to the team that finished with the best combined points totals in 2017 and 2018. That wound up being United (124). If Atlanta secured the MLS crown having already secured a spot in competition, their spot goes to the team with the next best points total from the past two seasons — the Red Bulls (121).
On Monday, Concacaf conducted the draw for the CCL at the Univision Deportes Studios.
The event, which sorted the 15 already qualified clubs into eight pairings for the first round of the competition, featured remarks from Concacaf general secretary Philippe Moggio, who also revealed the new logo for the region’s premier club competition. The captain of reigning SCCL champions CD Guadalajara, Carlos Salcido, presented the most desired club trophy in the region.
Concacaf chief football officer Manolo Zubiria, conducted the draw with the assistance of former Mexico international and Club America goalkeeper Moises Muñoz and Panama legend Blas Perez.
The Round of 16 pairings:
Matchup #1: Santos Laguna (MEX) vs CD Marathon (HON)
Matchup #2: Portland Timbers or New York Red Bulls (USA) vs Club Atletico Pantoja (DOM)
Matchup #3: Tigres UANL (MEX) vs Deportivo Saprissa (CRC)
Matchup #4: Houston Dynamo (USA) vs CD Guastatoya (GUA)
Matchup #5: Toluca FC (MEX) vs Sporting Kansas City (USA)
Matchup #6: Toronto FC (CAN) vs Club Atletico Independiente (PAN)
Matchup #7: Atlanta United (USA) vs CS Herediano (CRC)
Matchup #8: CF Monterrey (MEX) vs Alianza FC (SLV)
The full schedule, including kick off times and venues, will be announced soon.
19-21 Round of 16 – 1st Leg
26-28 Round of 16 – 2nd Leg
5-7 Quarterfinals – 1st Leg
12-14 Quarterfinals – 2nd Leg
2-4 Semifinals – 1st Leg
9-11 Semifinals – 2nd Leg
23-25 Final – 1st Leg
30–2 Final – 2nd Leg