CONCACAF & Whitecaps FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC men will face the champions of Nicaragua over two legs, should they win the Nutrilite Canadian Championship this summer.
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) unveiled the preliminary round match-ups for the inaugural edition of the CONCACAF Champions League during Wednesday's draw at the CONCACAF headquarters in New York City.
The Canadian entry - which will be one of Whitecaps FC, Montreal Impact, or Major League Soccer side Toronto FC – was one of 16 slots to be drawn into eight home-and-away ties for the preliminary round edition the confederation's new club competition. The first-leg matches will take place between August 26 and 28, with the second-leg games are set for between September 2 and 4, 2008. The Nutrilite Canadian Championship winner will host their counterpart from Nicaragua in the first leg before traveling to Central America for the decisive second leg. The winner of the tie will join the seven other preliminary round winners in the group stage of the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League.
The successful club in that two-leg tie will advance to Champions League Group C, where they will face Mexican club Atlante FC, CD Olimpia or CD Marathon from Honduras, and the winner of the Joe Public (Trinidad & Tobago) versus New England Revolution (USA) preliminary round clash.
Like Canada, Nicaragua are the only other participant that has yet to determine their representative for the Champions League. Real Esteli FC, who won Nicaragua's 2007 Campeonato Nacional de Apertura (Opening Championship), is also in the 2008 Nicaraguan Clausura (Closing Championship) semifinals after finishing fourth in the standings. This Sunday, Real Esteli will play Diriangen FC in one semi, while Deportivo Ocotal take on Deportivo Walter Ferretti in the other semifinal clash. The winner of the Clausura will meet Real Esteli in a two-game playoff to determine Nicaragua's qualifier. However, should Real Esteli win the Clausura title, they will automatically qualify for the Champions League.
The Whitecaps quest to reach the CONCACAF Champions League begins next Tuesday night at Stade Saputo in Montreal, Quebec, as Teitur Thordarson's side play John Limniatis' Impact side in their first game in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship. Vancouver then host the Impact at Swangard Stadium the following Wednesday, June 25, in the three-club competition before taking on Toronto FC home-and-away in early July. The top team in the competition will qualify as Canada's representative for the Champions League.
Next Monday, CONCACAF will unveil the complete schedule for the preliminary round games, as well as the results of Wednesday's draw for the Champions League group stage, which takes place between mid-September and late October of 2008. The top two clubs from each of the four groups will advance to the quarterfinals, with the eight clubs being drawn into four home-and-away ties in late February and early March of 2009. The four quarterfinal winners will then play in two semifinal home-and-away match-ups in March and April of 2009, with the two semifinal winners to play home and away in the CONCACAF Champions League final in late April of 2009.
The winner of the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League will qualify as the CONCACAF representative for the 2009 edition of the FIFA Club World Cup.
2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League - Preliminary Round Draw (home teams listed first)
First Leg (August 26 to 28, 2008)
GUA2: CD Municipal or Deportivo Jalapa – PAN1: San Francisco FC
CFU2: Joe Public FC (Trinidad & Tobago) – USA3: New England Revolution
CRC2: LD Alajuelense – CFU3: Puerto Rico Islanders
MEX4: CD SC Cruz Azul – BLZ1: Hankook Verdes
CFU1: Harbour View FC (Jamaica) – MEX3: Pumas UNAM
PAN2: Tauro FC – USA4: Chivas USA
*CAN1: Canadian champion – NCA1: Nicaraguan champion*
SLV2: CD Isidro Metapan – HON2: CD Olimpia or CD Marathon
Second Leg (September 2 to 4, 2008)
PAN1: San Francisco FC – GUA2: CD Municipal or Deportivo Jalapa
USA3: New England Revolution – CFU2: Joe Public FC (Trinidad & Tobago)
CFU3: Puerto Rico Islanders – CRC2: LD Alajuelense
BLZ1: Hankook Verdes – MEX4: CD SC Cruz Azul
MEX3: Pumas UNAM – CFU1: Harbour View FC (Jamaica)
USA4: Chivas USA – PAN2: Tauro FC
*NCA1: Nicaraguan champion – CAN1: Canadian champion*
HON2: CD Olimpia or CD Marathon – SLV2: CD Isidro Metapan
CLICK HERE for more information on the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League.