There's no stopping the summer of soccer. August is here, and that means it's time for another edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, North America's most prestigious international club competition.
In the 2016-17 edition, five MLS teams will vie for the chance to become the first side from the United States or Canada to lift this particular trophy and book a spot in the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup, where they will face off against some of the best teams in all of world soccer.
To learn more about the CCL, its history and how it works, be sure to check out our CCL FAQ.
For now, we'll leave you with a breakdown of the eight groups in the competition. Remember – each team will play the other two both home and away, and only the top team in each group advances to the quarterfinals, which will begin in February 2017. If you need help keeping track, be sure to bookmark the CCL schedule and standings pages.
Group A: Pumas, W Connection, Honduras Progreso
Pumas UNAM are the overwhelming favorites to take home Group A, with the Mexican club set to battle Trinidad and Tobago’s W Connection and Honduras Progreso for a berth in the quarterfinals.
Pumas qualified for the tournament by virtue of their second-place finish in the Liga MX 2015 Apertura season. They’re powered by recently-returned Mexican veteran Pablo Barrera and Ecuador international Fidel Martinez. A 26-year-old winger, Martinez totaled six goals and 13 assists in 32 appearances in the 2015 Apertura and 2016 Clausura campaigns and appeared in three games off the bench for Ecuador in this summer’s Copa America Centenario.
This will be W Connection’s fifth time in the CCL. The Trinidadian champs have never advanced past the group stage, coming closest in the 2009-2010 competition, when they finished six points behind first-place Pumas UNAM in Group D. This is the first time in the CCL for Honduras Progreso, who qualified for the competition by winning Honduras’ 2015 Apertura.
Group B: Portland Timbers, Saprissa, Dragón
The Timbers got a bit of a tricky draw, as they’ll face off against Costa Rican powerhouse Saprissa and Salvadoran club Dragón FC in Group B.
Saprissa will be the main impediment to Portland advancing to the CCL knockouts for the first time in club history. La S are no strangers to the competition, having appeared in the tournament on five previous occasions and advanced to the knockout round twice. The San José-based squad, who boast one of the most intimidating home stadiums in all of CONCACAF, are chock full of Costa Rican notables, including longtime New York Red Bulls defender Roy Miller.
Saprissa will test Portland, who were eliminated in the group stage in their one previous CCL appearance, but the Timbers will have a good shot at advancing if Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe and Fanendo Adi can do their thing.
Group C: Vancouver Whitecaps, Sporting KC, Central FC
Two MLS teams enter, only one can advance. The Vancouver Whitecaps and Sporting Kansas City will be the favorites to qualify out of Group C, with Trinidad and Tobago’s Central FC the underdogs to move into the quarterfinals.
This is the second straight CCL in which Vancouver are grouped with a fellow MLS club. The Whitecaps were drawn with the Seattle Sounders in the 2015-16 tournament, finishing third behind their Cascadia rivals and second-place Honduran club Olimpia in Group F. Sporting have had a slightly more successful history in the CCL, dancing to the quarterfinals of the 2013-14 tournament and finishing a close second in their group behind Saprissa in the 2014-15 competition.
Founded in 2012, this is Central’s second time in the CCL. The Sharks finished second in their group last year, ending their tournament run four points behind group winners LA Galaxy.
Group D: Monterrey, Árabe Unido, Don Bosco
One of the top teams on the continent and three-time CCL winners, Monterrey are the overwhelming favorite to advance out of Group D. A perennial Liga MX powerhouse, Los Rayados are powered by Argentine attacker Rogelio Funes Mori and Colombian international Edwin Cardona and feature US national team defender Edgar Castillo.
Árabe Unido will be Monterrey’s toughest test in group play, with the Panamanian club – and two-time CCL quarterfinalist – set for their fifth appearance in the competition. Haiti’s Don Bosco will be making their debut in the modern CCL, and aren’t expected to make much noise in the tournament.
Group E: Pachuca, Police United, Olimpia
Winners of the CONCACAF Champions League once before, Pachuca will be the team expected to advance from this trio. The Mexican club boasts a bevy of talented players, including US national team center back Omar Gonzalez, and will be riding the momentum of winning the 2016 Clausura title in Liga MX.
Honduran outfit Olimpia are no strangers to the tournament, however, given that they are the only side to compete in every edition of it. They will be looking to tap into that experience to reach the quarterfinals for the third time in the competition's history, while debuting Belizean club Police United look to play the Cinderella role as they get their first taste of the Champions League.
Group F: NY Red Bulls, Alianza, Antigua
The New York Red Bulls punched their ticket by winning the 2015 Supporters' Shield, and will be aiming to move out of the group stage of the tournament for the first time. New York have twice before played in the Champions League, most recently during the 2014-15 edition, but have never reached the quarterfinals.
Standing in their way are El Salvador's 2015 Apertura winners, Alianza, and Guatemala's 2015 Apertura champions, Antigua. Alianza have once before taken part in the tournament, though only in the preliminary round back in 2011-12, and Antigua are making their first appearance.
Group G: Tigres, Plaza Amador, Herediano
After falling just short of the Champions League crown in 2015-16, Tigres UANL are back with dreams of lifting the trophy this time around. The club qualified by claiming Liga MX's 2015 Apertura title, and is making its third appearance in the Champions League.
Reaching the quarterfinals will not be a walk in the park for Tigres UANL, though. Six-time Champions League participant and winners of Costa Rica's 2016 Verano campaign, Herediano should provide a formidable foe while Panama's 2016 Clausura kings, Plaza Amador, look to take the tournament by surprise in their first appearance.
Group H: FC Dallas, Real Estelí, Suchitepéquez
FC Dallas might be the most talented side on paper in Group H, but they must overcome their relative lack of experience if they are to advance to the knockout rounds. Finishing as the Western Conference's best team in 2015, Dallas are partaking in just their second Champions League and first since 2011-12, when they failed to get out of their group.
The most experienced team of this bunch are Nicaragua's Real Estelí, who are competing in their sixth edition of the Champions League. Like FC Dallas, however, they have never gotten out of the group stage. The least experienced in this group are Suchitepéquez, who were the 2016 Clausura winners in Guatemala and are making their tournament debut.