MLS clubs learn opponents for 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League group stage

CONCACAF Champions League Trophy

The stage is now set for the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League after the draw for the tournament's eight groups took place in Miami on Monday night.

The Vancouver Whitecaps and Sporting Kansas City were perhaps the most unlucky of the MLS contenders, as the only two teams forced to face another MLS side in the group stage. They are joined in Group C by Central FC, a Trinidad & Tobago team that exited in the group stage of their first-ever Champions League run last year. Both Vancouver and Kansas City are experienced Champions League contenders and they are familiar foes. They've already met twice in the MLS regular season, with a 1-1 draw on April 27 and Sporting KC winning at home, 2-1, on March 12.

The Portland Timbers also have a relatively rough road ahead. With only the top team advancing out of each group, they must try to get past Deportivo Saprissa of Costa Rica in Group B. Saprissa is an experienced Champions League team, having qualified for the previous two iterations of the tournament and having won three CCL titles and last appearing in a final in 2008. Also in their group is CD Dragón, who won the Clausura title in El Salvador's first division earlier this year to qualify for their first Champions League.

On the other hand, both the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas look well-positioned to advance from their respective groups. Though Alianza FC did win the Apertura title of El Salvador's first division in December, the Red Bulls should match up well against the San Salvador side in Group F, along with Guatemala's Antigua FC. Meanwhile Dallas' Group H includes Suchitepéquez, a Guatemalan team that is making its debut in the Champions League, plus Real Estelí FC, a Nicaraguan side that has never advanced beyond the group stage of the Champions League in five attempts.

The competition will begin in August, when the group stage will run through October, with the knockout rounds set to pick up in early 2017. Match dates, times and locations will be announced at a later date. The 2016-17 Champions League winner will advance to the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup. Liga MX's Club America are currently the reigning back-to-back champions after winning the tournament in 2015 and 2016, but did not qualify for the upcoming tournament.

Group A:
W Connection FC (TRI)
CD Honduras Progreso (HON)
Pumas UNAM (MEX)

Group B:
CD Dragón (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)
Deportivo Árabe Unido (PAN)
CF Monterrey (MEX)

Group E:
Police United FC (BLZ)
Club Deportivo Olimpia (HON)
CF Pachuca (MEX)

Group F:
Alianza FC (SLV)
Antigua FC (GUA)
New York Red Bulls (USA)

Group G:
CD Plaza Amador (PAN)
Club Sport Herediano (CRC)
Tigres UANL (MEX)

Group H:
Real Estelí FC (NCA)
CD Suchitepéquez (GUA)
FC Dallas (USA)