The CONCACAF Champions League is a competition for the football clubs in the regions of North America, Central America, and The Caribbean. It is the most prestigious and auspicious football competition in the areas of North America, Central America, and The Caribbean. The winners of the league qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup usually held in December. In Champions League, sixteen teams participate; nine from North America, six from Central America and one from the Caribbean. The North American and Central American teams qualify through their national leagues whereas the Caribbean team qualifies through the CFU Club Championship.
The title of the league has been won by 28 different clubs, out of which 17 of them have been won by a club more than once. Mexico has managed to win the most amount of times.
In 2017 the CONCACAF Champions League was expanded, as the CONCACAF international club competition was announced. The league is runs twice in a year in two segments. As a result, 31 teams got to participate in the event every year. To compensate with the increasing number of teams and maintaining the quality of the event, the league is organized in a direct elimination format.
CONCACAF Champions League, before 2008 was called the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Many formats have been followed since its beginning. From 1962 till 1995, clubs qualified on the basis of two separate brackets; A Caribbean qualifier and the other North/Central League winner. Initially, only the winners would qualify from the North American team, but then runner-ups rounded up and made up a team. Hence the tournament expanded, and more and more teams started to take part.
From 1962 to 2008, eight teams took part in the tournament. That is four from North America, three from Central America and one from the Caribbean. Since 2005, the winner qualifies to make it into FIFA Club World CUP that gave the participants a very strong incentive to play harder and better.
From 2008 to 2017, the newly expanded setup involved 16 teams that were separated into four groups of four teams each. The winner of this would be qualifying for the quarter finals of the FIFA Club World cup.
From 2018 to present, a new format has been generated by the President of Nicaraguan Football Federation. According to this format, a total of 31 clubs will participate in comprising of 2 segments. The first sixteen teams will play from August to December. The winner of this segment will then join the other 15 teams and play between February to March.
Teams participating in the CONCACAF Champions League:
The teams include:
Nine from North American zone:
4 clubs from Mexico; UANL, Santos Laguna, Monterrey and Toluca.
4 clubs from United States; Atlanta United, Sporting Kansas City, Houston Dynamo and New York Red Bulls.
1 club from Canada; Toronto FC.
Five from the Central American zone:
1 club from Costa Rica; Herediano
1 club from El Salvador; Alianza
1 club from Guatemala; Guastatoya
1 club from Honduras; Marathon
1 club from Panama; Independiente
One club from The Caribbean, qualifying via the CFU Championship; Dominican Republica.
Toronto FC has managed to earn a spot in the championship by winning 2018 Canadian Championship whereas Houston Dynamo earned its berth by winning 2018 US Open Cup. Atlanta United entered via 2018 MLS Cup. Sporting Kansas City earned a spot via 2017 US Open Cup and New York Red Bulls entered being the non-champions with the highest record in 2017 and 2018.
Toronto FC is the Canadian Professional football club based in Toronto, Canada, competes as Major League Soccer as a member of Eastern Conference. Toronto FC is seven-time winners of Canadian Championship and have been the runner-up of the CONCACAF Champions League. Last year, Toronto FC was on the edge of becoming the first MLS team to win the Champions League for the very first time due to their utmost hard work and intense game.
For Mexico, the teams earn their spot by winning and being the runner up of the Liga MX Apertura and Clausura tournaments. UANL entered the tournament by winning the 2016 Apertura Championship whereas Guadalajara earned a spot 2017 Clausura tournament. Sanatas Laguna shined bright this hear in its match against Marathon with 6-2 score played in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
For those unfamiliar with the Canadian Premier League click here. Would love to see a CanPL team make it to this competition. Shoutout York9 and Forge FC, Ontario Soccer.