CONCACAF Champions League: New York, Montreal do battle for knockouts | Group 3 Preview

This is the preview for Group 3 as we approach the kickoff to the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League on August 5. For comprehensive CONCACAF Champions League coverage, bookmark this page.


New York Red Bulls (USA) | HOW THEY QUALIFIED: 2013 MLS Supporters' Shield winners | PREVIOUS BEST: Preliminary Round (2009)

Montreal Impact (CAN) | HOW THEY QUALIFIED: 2014 Canadian Championship winners | PREVIOUS BEST: Group Stage (2013)

CD FAS (SLV) | HOW THEY QUALIFIED: Runners-up with best aggregate record in 2013-14 Primera División season | PREVIOUS BEST: Group Stage (2010)


DAVID AND GOLIATH

Unlike any other group in this tournament, Group 3 contains two teams from one of the top two leagues in North America, and that means only one (if any) of the New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact can advance.

The Impact are at least used to this sort of situation, as they were put into a group with the San Jose Earthquakes in the last iteration of the CCL. They were undone by a 3-0 loss at Buck Shaw and did not make it out of the group.

The Red Bulls are the prohibitive favorites to win the group despite their up-and-down recent form, with the Impact struggling in MLS play and with FAS having almost no success in this tournament during their last two tries.

Date/Time (ET) Home Away Venue
August 5 | 8 PM Montreal Impact CD FAS Stade Saputo
August 20 | 10 PM CD FAS Montreal Impact Estadio Cuscatlan
August 26 | 8 PM New York Red Bulls CD FAS Red Bull Arena
September 17 | 8 PM Montreal Impact New York Red Bulls Stade Saputo
September 24 | 10 PM CD FAS New York Red Bulls Estadio Cuscatlan
October 22 | 8 PM New York Red Bulls Montreal Impact Red Bull Arena

STAR POWER

Thierry Henry, F, New York Red Bulls: Titi has never played in the CCL before and may not be appearing in the knockout rounds if the Red Bulls advance. Henry is rumored to be retiring at the end of the year, so these four games might be your only chance to catch the legend in the international competition for New York.

Jack McInerney, F, Montreal Impact: The former Union player scored three goals in the Canadian Championship, helping the Impact clinch their berth in this tournament. He has also played well in MLS play since joining the Impact, scoring six goals in 15 MLS appearances so far.

X-FACTOR

The Red Bulls are the favorites but the schedule has not done them any favors. While the Impact’s four games are all at least 15 days apart, RBNY will play games in back-to-back weeks, both road games. Throw in their three MLS games between September 10-20, and the Red Bulls will have a total of five games over a two-week span, with the final test in El Salvador.

MLS/US CONNECTIONS

Hugo Perez spent the last couple of years of his professional career with CD FAS from 1994-96. A midfielder, Perez registered 73 caps and scored 16 goals with the US national team from 1984-1994. He made one appearance during the 1994 World Cup … MLS veteran Wolde Harris (right) also spent three years with the club after his MLS career. Harris, a Jamaican international, spent nine seasons in MLS with the Rapids, Revolution and Wizards, scoring 51 goals in 194 appearances.

CAN THE IMPACT/RED BULLS WIN IT ALL?:

The third team in their group shouldn't present much of a challenge, so that should make it easier for the Red Bulls or Impact to advance. From there, it could be rough for the two MLS sides. The Impact are likely facing a major rebuild after what is turning out to be a disappointing 2014 season. Marco Di Vaio may not be back next March and the team will have limited time to gel before the knockout stages begin in March.

The Red Bulls might be in a similar situation to their Canadian neighbors. If Henry does decide to retire, Mike Petke will have large void to fill in the offseason. Could we see a new era of Red Bulls soccer with the departure of Henry, and possibly Tim Cahill?