Five MLS teams learned their path in the 2015-16 version of the CONCACAF Champions League last night as the draw for the group stage of the tournament took place in Miami.
Each squad was drawn into a group of three, of which only the group winner will advance to the knockout rounds of the tournament. For D.C. United, the LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, the Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps, last night brought mostly good news.
Since the tournament went to the current format in 2012-13, 24 teams have advanced to the knockout stages. Three leagues have dominated those 24: Liga MX, MLS and the Costa Rican Primera Division. 21 of the 24 teams that have advanced have come from one of the big three.
|# of Teams to advance to KO round since 2012-13|
|League||# of Teams|
As you can see in the table to the right, no other league has advanced more than one team to the knockout rounds since 2012-13. With historical precedent in mind, MLS teams should be smiling about this year's draw.
With US-based MLS sides and Liga MX teams avoiding each other in the group stages by rule – the Whitecaps could have met Mexican opposition – the opponents to avoid were the Costa Ricans. And all five MLS squads did just that.
The LA Galaxy were drawn into a group with a team from Trinidad & Tobago and one from Guatemala. D.C. United got teams from Jamaica and Panama, while Real Salt Lake will face teams from El Salvador and Guatemala.
Of the MLS squads, the unlucky ones were the Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps, who were drawn into Group F together along with 2014-15 CCL group winner Olimpia of Honduras. But at least they'll save on travel miles when playing each other.
There have been just two instances in which an MLS team failed to win a group that doesn't include another MLS, Liga MX or Costa Rican opponent.
One occurred in 2013-14, when the Houston Dynamo did not get out of a group won by Arabe Unido of Panama, who were drawn into a group with D.C. United on Monday night. The other came last season, when the Portland Timbers failed to advance from a group that was won by Olimpia.