I’m not sure anybody is more jacked for Monday’s 2020 Concacaf Champions League draw than me. My #CCLFever is terminal. It’s been metastasizing for more than a decade. There are no organs left to take over, nowhere for the fever to spread. There is no cure, just the day I draw my last breath.
The 2020 draw is Monday in Mexico City. You can watch it live on TUDN in the United States and TSN in Canada. You already know I’m Team Chaos. It’s called #CCLFever for a reason. I want to be sweating one second, teeth chattering the next. I want it to be weird. Give me fever dreams. I want it to be more than just soccer. I want peak Concacaf, perhaps this time with a new twist: an MLS club hoisting the trophy. I also want chalk in the Round of 16 to give us maximum MLS vs. Liga MX. Apologies in advance.
To give me what I want, I played Soccer God with the draw, within the double-blind rules, then I played the 2020 tournament all the way through the semis – better believe it’s an MLS vs. Liga MX final – to maximize fun. Seeded team listed first, Round of 16 winners listed and full bracket at the bottom of the page. Time to use your imagination! Let me know who you’ve got as the 2020 champion in the comments or on Twitter.
caption here | USA Today Images
LAFC (A1) vs. Alianza FC (B1)
The first-ever international friendly played at Banc of California Stadium was El Salvador vs. Guatemala. They scheduled that match for a reason. There would be plenty of overlap between LAFC and Alianza supporters and one hell of an away section. Imagine this scenario: Rodolfo Zelaya, who injured his knee on international duty with El Salvador in November, makes a winter move to Alianza, where he is already a legend. He scores in the first leg, and Alianza head to Los Angeles with the aggregate score tied. Imagine that atmosphere, the tension in the building as LAFC play their first home game of 2020 and first-ever CCL match. Hell yeah.
Atlanta United (A2) vs. Club Leon (B2)
Atlanta almost got bounced by Herediano in the Round of 16 last year in their tournament debut. No way they can look past Leon, even with J.J. Macias apparently on his way back to Chivas. We know the expectations for the Five Stripes. We don’t know exactly what the roster will look like, but Josef Martinez and Pity Martinez will be there. Leon just got bounced by Morelia in the Liguilla. Atlanta crashed in the MLS Cup playoffs. Lots of subplots here, plus it sets up Atlanta United vs. LAFC in the quarterfinal (and Tigres looming in the semis).
WINNER: Atlanta United
Montreal Impact (A3) vs. Portmore United (A3)
Thierry Henry’s first match as Impact manager will be played in Jamaica against the Concacaf Caribbean Club Championships winner. Portmore currently have the Union’sCory Burke on loan and 2014 SuperDraft pick Andre Lewis (No. 7 overall to Vancouver) in the midfield. Long-time MLS and Jamaican national team central defender Shavar Thomas is the head coach. I’m all about having an excuse to catch up with former MLSers in CCL. Montreal have a history of success in this competition. Let’s see how Henry (and Bojan!) handle it. They’ve got a big task ahead in the quarterfinals …
WINNER: Montreal Impact
Tigres UANL (A4) vs. San Carlos (B4)
You better believe I built this bracket to have Andre-Pierre Gignac, Tuca Ferretti and Tigres meet Henry’s Impact in the quarterfinals. San Carlos’ rapid rise is a pro/rel fairytale story, but Alvaro Saborio retired (still have former MLSer Jairo Arrieta, though), and they can’t handle El Volcan. No upset here. I need the APG-Henry, French-connection storyline. Plus, when Tigres take down Montreal (désolé les fans de l'Impact), they’ll get either LAFC or Atlanta United in the semifinals.
WINNER: Tigres UANL
caption here | USA Today Images
NYCFC (A5) vs. Saprissa (B5)
How are these for MLS connections? Johan Venegas, Christian Bolanos, Roy Miller and Aubrey David (cup of coffee with FC Dallas). Nostalgia aside, it’s worth watching Saprissa just for 17-year-old Manfred Ugalde, who had eight goals in 21 Apertura and Concacaf League matches. No doubt MLS teams have taken notice of the teenage center forward. As for NYCFC, let’s see how those playoff/USOC struggles translate to CCL and the Purple Monster. The away leg is going to be quite the experience for whoever ends up taking the coaching job.
Cruz Azul (A6) vs. Comunicaciones (B6)
Waiting for NYCFC in the quarters is Cruz Azul. Milton Caraglio (the Revs’ first-ever DP) and Yoshi Yotun are solid MLS connections. Incredibly, Rafa Baca is still with La Maquina, too. Team Chaos is more interested in seeing how the playoff/trophy curses of both teams affect their psyche. Give me all the anxious energy.
WINNER: Cruz Azul
Seattle Sounders (A7) vs. Olimpia (B7)
Speaking of former Revs DPs, Jerry Bengtson come on down! How about former Vancouver Whitecaps Johnny Leveron and Deybi Flores? Yep! Ever Alvarado? Only Sporting KC fans will remember that name. I’m absolutely here for the Sounders (Raul Ruidiaz, Nico Lodeiro, Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan, Brian Schmetzer, et al.) to make a trip to Tegucigalpa.
WINNER: Sounders advance
Club America (A8) vs. Motagua (B8)
I’m just gonna level with you: Club America is the Mexican club in the final in the Team Chaos bracket. I want an MLS vs. Liga MX matchup, and America (Henry Martin, Guido Rodriguez, Giovani dos Santos, Paul Aguilar, Memo Ochoa, "Piojo" Herrera, Estadio Azteca, etc.) will absolutely bring the chaos.
WINNER: Club America
February can’t come soon enough! Here’s how I’ve got it playing out up until the final…
Quarterfinal 1: LAFC vs. Atlanta United … LAFC win
Quarterfinal 2: Tigres vs. Montreal Impact … Tigres win
Quarterfinal 3: NYCFC vs. Cruz Azul … NYCFC win
Quarterfinal 4: Seattle Sounders vs. Club America … Club America win
Semifinal 1: LAFC vs. Tigres … LAFC win
Semifinal 2: NYCFC vs. Club America … Club America win
FINAL: LAFC vs. Club America!