MIAMI BEACH, FL. – The stage is set.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC will face Central FC from Trinidad and Tobago and fellow Major League Soccer side Sporting Kansas City in the group stage of the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League. The official draw was held on Monday night in Miami Beach, Florida, with Whitecaps FC being placed in Group C.
The ‘Caps will play Central FC and Sporting KC twice, once at home and once away, for a total of four matches between August and October 2016. The top team in the group will advance to the knockout stages, starting in early 2017.
The group stage schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.
All CCL group stage home matches are included in Tier 1 ‘Caps Club Memberships – tickets will be loaded onto ‘Caps Cards at a later date. Single match tickets will also go on sale at a later date.
Founded in 2012, Central FC may not have a long history, but they've already had all sorts of success.
In 2014-15, they won the TT Pro League (top division in Trinidad and Tobago) and they are two-time defending Caribbean Football Union Club Championship winners.
The Sharks, who had nine players called up to the Trinidadian national team over the last year, completed the defence of their title earlier this month, defeating W Connection 3-0 in an all-Trinidadian championship final.
This will be Central FC’s second consecutive appearance in the CCL. Last year, they placed second in Group D behind LA Galaxy with a 1W-2L-1D record (coincidentally, the same record Whitecaps FC posted in last year’s CCL). Their lone victory was a 1-0 result at home over Guatemalan side CSD Comunicaciones.
Central FC’s home ground, Ato Boldon Stadium, is based in the town of Couva. However, last year they played their CCL fixtures at Hasely Crawford Stadium in the capital city of Port of Spain. The national stadium has a capacity of 23,000.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
The ‘Caps haven’t had much success against Sporting KC since joining MLS, posting a 1W-5L-3D record in nine previous meetings. That includes a 2-1 loss at Sporting KC and a 1-1 home draw earlier this season. Whitecaps FC were reduced to 10 men in both matches.
The two sides will meet once more in MLS play this season on August 20 in Kansas City.
As it stands, Sporting KC sit seventh in the Western Conference with a 5W-8L-2D record.
Sporting KC clinched its Champions League berth last September with a penalty shootout victory over the Philadelphia Union in the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final.
The ‘Caps participated in the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time last season.
They were drawn into a group with longtime Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders FC and Honduran side C.D. Olimpia. Whitecaps FC failed to advance to the knockout stages after posting a 1W-2L-1D record in the group stage.
Mexican powerhouse Club America are two-time defending CONCACAF champions, but they did not qualify for this year’s edition of the tournament so there will be a new champion.
An MLS team has never won the CCL – though Montreal reached the final in 2014-15.
WHAT IS THE CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE?
The CONCACAF Champions League is a 24-team competition between the top clubs from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Whitecaps FC earned Canada’s lone entry in the tournament by winning the Voyageurs Cup in last year’s Amway Canadian Championship.
The winner of the CCL qualifies for the annual FIFA Club World Cup, where they compete against the top teams from Asia, Africa, South America, Oceana, and Europe.
Barcelona are the reigning Club World Cup champions.
2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage
Group A: W Connection (TRI), Honduras Progreso (HON), Pumas (MEX)
Group B: CD Dragon (SLV), Deportivo Saprissa (CRC), Portland Timbers (USA)
Group C: Central FC (TRI), Vancouver Whitecaps FC (CAN), Sporting Kansas City (USA)
Group D: Don Bosco FC (HAI), Arabe Unido (PAN), Monterrey (MEX)
Group E: Police United (BLZ), Olimpia (HON), Pachuca (MEX)
Group F: Alianza CF (SLV), Antigua GFC (GUA), New York Red Bulls (USA)
Group G: Plaza Amador (PAN), CS Herediano (CRC), Tigres (MEX)
Group H: Real Esteli (NIC), CD Suchitepequez (GUA), FC Dallas (USA)
Be a part of the best sporting atmosphere in Vancouver! Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket, and single match tickets. For more information, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.