CONCACAF Champions League: Breaking down the advancement scenarios for MLS teams

In the midst of all the MLS playoff craziness, another important berth is at stake for three MLS teams: a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

The CCL group stage wraps up this week, with games running Oct. 22-24. The Houston Dynamo, San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City can all join the LA Galaxy, who have already advanced thanks to three straight group stage wins. The Montreal Impact, MLS' other representative in the competition, have already been eliminated.

For Sporting and Houston, who both lead their groups, the task is straightforward: a win or draw will see them into the quarterfinals. For San Jose, who trail Guatemalan side Heredia by three points, the scenario is a bit more complicated, seeing as a win at home vs. Heredia would put all three teams in the group on six points. The tiebreak scenarios, per the CONCACAF website are, in order:

  1. Greater number of points earned in group matches between teams concerned
  2. Greater goal differential in matches between teams concerned
  3. Greater number of goals scored away from home in matches between teams concerned
  4. Reapply the first three criteria if two or more teams or tied
  5. Greater goal difference in all group matches
  6. Greater number of goals scored in all group matches
  7. Greater number of goals scored away from home in all group matches
  8. Drawing of lots

Per a CONCACAF spokesperson, if the three teams in Group 5 end up with six points apiece, the head-to-head tiebreakers will not apply, meaning San Jose would have the upper hand on goal differential. Given the tiebreakers, here are the exact scenarios needed for each team to advance:

Sporting KC (vs. Olimpia; Oct. 23, 8 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus):

  • Will advance with a win or draw over Olimpia
  • Will be eliminated with a loss vs. Olimpia

San Jose Earthquakes (vs. Heredia; Oct. 23, 10 pm ET, Fox Sports 2)

  • Will advance with a win by any score over Heredia
  • Will be eliminated with a draw or loss vs. Heredia

Houston Dynamo (at Árabe Unido; Oct. 24, 8 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus)

  • Will advance with a win or draw over Árabe Unido
  • Will be eliminated with a loss vs. Árabe Unido