After capturing the 2023 MLS Supporter’s Shield, FC Cincinnati received an automatic qualification for the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup. For a fan of a club that competes in several cup tournaments, your head may be spinning trying to keep up with all the different competitions. Well, I’ve got you covered. Here are things you need to know about this year’s CCC.
What is CONCACAF?
CONCACAF is an acronym for ‘Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football’. It is the governing body of all soccer competitions within the title regions. It consists of both club and national teams.
What is the CONCACAF Champions Cup?
The CONCACAF Champions Cup is a tournament that includes club soccer teams from all over the Northwest Hemisphere. From Trinidad and Tobago to Canada, clubs compete to be crowned the champions of CONCACAF. The tournament has been around since 1962 and has held two names in the past. Originally called the CONCACAF Champions Cup, the tournament was renamed the CONCACAF Champions League in 2008 to 2023. This year the name has been changed to the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
Who are some past Cup Champions?
CONCACAF Champions have been represented by nine different countries. No country has had more champions than Mexico with 38. Costa Rica has had six champions. The United States has had 3 champions with D.C. United in 1998, the LA Galaxy in 2000 and the Seattle Sounders in 2022. Canada has never had a champion in the tournament. The last time a club outside of the United States and Mexico won the tournament was in 2005 when Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa lifted the trophy. By club, Club América reigns supreme with seven trophies. Mexican foes Cruz Azul has six trophies, Pachuca and C.F. Monterrey with five apiece.
How did teams qualify for the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup?
There were various qualifiers for this year’s CCC. For Mexico, Canada and the United States, league play, Leagues Cup and domestic cup results birthed teams in the competition. For Central America and the Caribbean, there were regional tournaments that saw the top three performing clubs qualify.
Who are the favorites?
With clubs from all over the region that don’t typically have crossover matches, it might be hard to determine who the clear favorites are. But I typically like to see where sports books want to put their money credit ‘BETUS’. As of Monday, February 5th, Inter Miami is the odds-on favorite with a +300 money line. Second is Club América at +350 odds. C.F. Monterrey rounds out the top three with +700 odds. CONCACAF has a rankings list for all club soccer teams that would take a whole other article to explain but here are how they rank teams. The top three clubs are all Liga MX teams. In first place is Club América, second place C.F. Monterrey, and third place is Tigres UANL. For the United States, Philadelphia Union is ranked fifth, Columbus Crew is ranked ninth, and LAFC comes in at tenth. FC Cincinnati is ranked 14th in CONCACAF and has the ninth-best odds at +2500. The highest Canadian team in the competition is the Vancouver Whitecaps. The highest-ranked non-North American team in the tournament is Deportivo Saprissa from Costa Rica.
Who are the Cinderellas?
Everyone loves a good underdog story. There is no underdog like the Surinamese club S.V. Robinhood who shocked the region by lifting the 2023 Caribbean Cup last December. Robinhood is currently at +50000 odds and ranks 99th in CONCACAF. If that glass slipper doesn’t fit, perhaps you would enjoy Moca FC from the Dominican Republic. Moca FC has perhaps the lowest odds to lifting the CONCACAF Champions Cup. BETUS has them at +50000 and CONCACAF has them ranked last among the field at 110th. For clubs in the United States, none come in lower in the rankings than St. Louis City. The “Soccer Capital of America” has +5000 odds and is ranked 46th by CONCACAF.
What is the format?
The format is a pretty straightforward knock-out tournament. The catch is that for each round there are two matches played — one at the highest-ranking club’s home and the other at the lower-ranked club’s home. The winner of the round is determined by what is called an aggregate score. This simply means whoever scores more goals through the two games advances to the next round. If the goal total is the same, away goals scored will be the first tiebreaker. If the goal and away goals total are still tied, then extra time and penalties will follow the second match. This continues round after round until the cup final where it will be a single match at the higher-ranked club’s home. For the bracket, clubs were drawn based on club rankings. Three teams received a bye for the first round. Inter Miami won the Leagues Cup, the Columbus Crew won the MLS Cup and Pachuca won the 2022 Apertura and had a higher cumulative table position than the 2023 Clausura champions Tigres UANL.
What are the dates?
The tournament will be held throughout the first half of the 2024 calendar year. This competition does not interrupt any league play or domestic tournaments but will force rescheduling as clubs advance. The first round starts on February 6th and continues until February 29th. The round of 16 is from March 5th to March 14th. Quarter-finals will take place between April 2nd and April 11th. The Semi-finals are between April 23rd and May 2nd. The final will be held on June 2nd.
What is the prize for the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup?
The prize will be a nice piece of hardware in the trophy case and the title of Kings of CONCACAF. The cash purse for the champion is $5 million. The winner also secures the fourth CONCACAF spot in the revamped 2025 Club World Cup held in the United States. The three other spots are held by C.F Monterrey, the Seattle Sounders and León. If C.F. Monterrey wins this year’s CCC, the fourth spot will go to an MLS club with the highest cumulative CONCACAF ranking from 2021 to 2024.