Home Uncategorized CONCACAF Champions League draw: TFC to face Santos Laguna… again

CONCACAF Champions League draw: TFC to face Santos Laguna… again

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Toronto FC will play Santos Laguna more times in 2012 than it will play many MLS teams on the schedule. The CONCACAF Champions League draw, announced Tuesday, saw TFC put into a group with Santos Laguna, the team that knocked them out of the previous CCL at the semifinal stage. And that likely means another visit to Toronto for American scoring ace Herculez Gomez, who scored against Toronto FC at BMO Field for his Mexican side, then played last Sunday for the Americans against Canada in Toronto. By the end of 2012, TFC and Santos Laguna will have played each other four times over the year. Santos Laguna is the reigning Mexican champion, and has the honour of being the team that eliminated Canada’s most two successful CCL teams, TFC 2011-12 and the Montreal Impact 2008-09, from the competition. Toronto FC was tied 2-2 with the Mexican powerhouse at halftime of the second leg of their semifinal. But Santos Laguna exposed TFC over and over in the second half, and the Mexican fans celebrated what became a 6-2 rout. But Santos Laguna lost the CCL final to Monterrey, who claimed its second regional championship in a row. El Salvadorean side CD Aguila rounds out the group of three. Aguila won the CONCACAF Champions Cup back in 1976 and is one of the country’s most decorated teams. It beat Suriname’s SV Robinhood in the 1976 final, over two legs. It was an odd final; at the time CONCACAF didn’t use aggregate goals. So, Aguila won the first leg 5-1, and then lost the second leg 1-0. But, because each team had won a game, the tie went into extra time after the second leg. Aguila scored three times in extra time to seal the title. Under the new CCL format, there are no more qualifying rounds. All teams move to the group stage. There are eight groups of three, and only the winners of the group move on to the quarter-finals. Because only the group winners get through, the thinking is that Mexican and MLS teams, which often start reserve side early in the tournament, no longer have margins for error and will need to take all the matches seriously. And, if the big guns play all the time, then that will generate more interest in the tournament. And there’s another twist. Just to make sure the teams go full-bore throughout the group stage, the quarter-finals will not be subject to a draw. The eight group winners will be ranked 1-8 based on their group-stage records. And, the team with the best group-stage record will face the team with the worst record, then No. 2 vs. No. 7 and so on. The higher seed gets the second leg at home. And, according to CONCACAF, “In the semifinals, the winner of 1-vs-8 will face the winner of 4-vs-5 (with the 1-vs-8 winner hosting the second leg), and likewise 3-vs-6 will play 4-vs-5 (with the survivor of 3-vs-6 hosting the second leg). In the finals, the team that prevails out of the upper bracket of 1-vs-8, 4-vs-5 will host the second leg.” Got that? The CCL begins July 31, but the exact fixture list has not been set. RELATED: Elementary mistakes expose Toronto FC in Mexico (CLICK) TFC and Santos Laguna trade goals… and punches (CLICK)

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