Welcome back to the Thursday Q&A series, where we focus on one particular topic – today's being the impact of added depth on the fortunes of MLS teams in the CONCACAF Champions League – and ask you to react, share, and discuss in the comments section. However, feel free to ask about anything game-related (MLS, USL, NASL, USMNT, CanMNT, etc.) over the next several hours.
We are on the verge of an MLS first. Thanks to a pair of road draws this week (D.C. United in Jamaica on Tuesday, then LA in Trinidad on Wednesday), as well as Seattle's win over Vancouver late last night, three MLS teams have advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League knock-out rounds, while a fourth is knocking on the door.
This is provided that RSL take care of business at home, starting tonight against Santa Tecla of El Salvador (10 pm ET; FS2), and then next month against Municipal of Guatemala. An they absolutely should take care of business, since they've already taken four points from those two away legs -- and did so despite using primarily their reserves and squad players.
Embedded below is RSL's video preview for the game:
There's no Javi Morales, Kyle Beckerman or Nick Rimando talking about the 90 minutes ahead of this team. If you look at the higlights spliced over the interviews, those guys don't show up there, either. Instead you see Bofo Sauceo and Justen Glad, both products of the RSL Academy; or John Stertzer, a three-year veteran, utility midfielder; or Jeff Attinella, who's paid his dues in MLS for more than half a decade.
We saw the same from LA, D.C. and Seattle over the group stage. There were no Dempsey or Martins on the field for the Sounders last night, and no Keane & Gerrard for the Galaxy. LA's second-half surge came courtesy of rookie Ignacio Maganto and Homegrown playmaker Raul Mendiola, and United rode veterans Jairo Arrieta and Michael Farfan to the top of their group, while getting important minutes from academy products Jalen Robinson and Collin Martin.
MLS teams used to struggle badly at this stage of the tournament, based primarily up their (lack of) depth. Those times have changed for the better.
Ok folks, I'm here for the next 90 minutes to take your abuse. Have at it!