Voices: Greg Seltzer

Six MLS takeaways from the Concacaf Champions League 2022 draw

The 2022 Concacaf Champions League draw was done and dusted on Wednesday evening, leaving all five MLS participants with plenty to chew over before Round of 16 ties begin in mid-February.

How did the draw shake out from a big-picture perspective? That's what we're here to kick around.

Toughest draw

It has to be CF Montreal's, as they must get past Santos Laguna (who they narrowly lost to back in the 2009 edition) and most likely Cruz Azul. And if they somehow escape that Liga MX predicament, the Stade Saputo bunch must then take on the survivor of the toughest quadrant in the draw (foreshadowing alert). I'll take "D'OH!" for $600, Alex.

Toughest quadrant in the draw

We already teased this one, so let's go straight to it. It's another easy pick. Only one of the New England Revolution, Tigres UANL and Deportivo Saprissa will escape the next two rounds to reach the semifinals. This section of the bracket is much kinder to New England by comparison, as they face Haitian club Cavaly AS in the Round of 16. But still, that quarterfinal is going to be epic.

Most favorable draw

It's more difficult to say which MLS side has the least bumpy route, since the draw came out almost quite well-balanced. I'm going with New York City FC. The new MLS champs get Costa Rican club Santos de Guapiles in the Round of 16 ahead of what should be (most likely) a quarterfinal bout against a Colorado Rapids team they've never lost to.

Most favorable side of the bracket

One portion of the draw has three Liga MX powers, plus Saprissa. The other half has one Mexican club. You do the math. There are no simple promenades to the final, but in the wide view of the bracket Colorado, NYCFC and Seattle Sounders FC should have it easier than Montréal and New England.

Hey, I know you!

Several entrants from abroad will likely suit up familiar faces when the knockout action begins in February. The Rapids could square off against Rodrigo Saravia (once of the Columbus Crew) and Nicolas Samayoa (ex-New England) when they tackle Comunicaciones in the Round of 16. There should be plenty of Western Conference alumni how-do-you-do's when Tigres (armed with Favio Alvarez and Sebastian Saucedo) clash with Saprissa (who boast two-time Best XI defender Kendall Waston, Christian Bolanos, Aubrey David and David Guzman) in the same round.

Actually, Canadian Premier League outfit Forge FC leads the way with eight former MLS players (including Omar Browne, Dejan Jakovic and Kyle Bekker), but it would be a big surprise to see them advance far enough to run up against an MLS foe. Likewise, it would take a huge upset over Leon for Guastatoya striker/former Houston Dynamo FC man Luis Angel Landin to (presumably) get his first shot at Seattle since 2009.

Is this the year an MLS team wins it all?

Though the usual schedule timing difficulties apply, I don't see why not. You've got the MLS Cup champs, the top team from each conference this past regular season, the Seattle Sounders and a CF Montréal side that's no stranger to wreaking a little CCL havoc.

Then again, no MLS team has won the modern-day version of the tournament. Flipping that fact will require avenging ghosts of CCL pasts, with the below teams making it to finals only to fall short of continental bragging rights and a FIFA Club World Cup spot.

MLS teams in modern-day CCL finals
MLS teams in modern-day CCL finals
MLS team
Real Salt Lake
CF Monterrey
3-2 (agg.)
CF Montréal
Club América
5-3 (agg.)
Toronto FC
Chivas Guadalajara
3-3 (4-2, PK)
Tigres UANL