Five Major League Soccer teams will feature in the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time since joining the competition more than a decade ago. At least one outfit from the United States is guaranteed to progress as Atlanta United meet the Philadelphia Union in one of the two-legged ties.
It’s possible we could witness an all-MLS lineup in the last four with at least one team from the league in each quarter-final, though the superpowers of Liga MX may have something to say about that. América and Cruz Azul—the most decorated clubs in the Champions League’s history—in particular could stage a resistance as they look to deny MLS its first CONCACAF crown since 2000.
What TV Channel is the CONCACAF Champions League On?
TUDN will broadcast each of this week’s quarter-final first-legs, which will also be available to watch via FS1 or FS2. Second-leg fixtures will be played one week later on May 4-5. You can live stream CONCACAF Champions League matches on fuboTV.
CCL Quarter-Final Schedule (1st Leg)
Tuesday, April 27
Atlanta United vs. Philadelphia Union, 8 p.m. ET - FS1, TUDN
Toronto vs. Cruz Azul, 10 p.m. ET - FS1, TUDN
Wednesday, April 28
Columbus Crew vs. Monterrey, 8:30 p.m. ET - FS2, TUDN
Portland Timbers vs. América, 10:30 p.m. ET - FS1, TUDN
Toronto vs. Cruz Azul
For the first time since the CONCACAF Champions League was reformatted to include MLS teams in 2008, fans will see a full complement of their five representatives in the last eight. That includes all four clubs from the United States, plus Toronto, who defeated Liga MX’s reigning Apertura champions, León, to reach this stage of the tournament.
The schedule doesn’t let up at all for the Canadian ambassadors as they now take on six-time Champions League winners Cruz Azul, incumbent leaders in Liga MX’s Clausura and unbeaten in their last 16 games. Toronto, meanwhile, are still searching for their first MLS win under new coach Chris Armas, who recently bagged his first point at the club in a derby draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps:
Home advantage proved crucial when Toronto edged La Maquina 2-1 over two legs in their only previous encounter during the 2010-11 edition of this contest. All three goals were scored in Canada before the Reds saw out a 0-0 result in Mexico City, although the chances of that now seem slim considering Toronto haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last nine games.
It’s also a factor that Toronto technically won’t have any home advantage to rely upon after their leg was moved to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in Canada.
Atlanta United vs. Philadelphia Union
Tuesday’s other quarter-final features an American civil war between Atlanta and Philadelphia, who will get to know each other well as they prepare to meet four times in the coming months.
The Union have collected just one win from their seven MLS encounters while Atlanta have emerged victorious in this fixture on four occasions. Former Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze is making a very positive impact early on in his first season as Atlanta manager and is yet to taste defeat thus far, which includes back-to-back 1-0 wins over Costa Rican club Alajuelense in the round of 16:
Philadelphia progressed past this season’s other Costa Rican contender in Saprissa (5-0 on aggregate) and are the only club boasting multiple scorers with two or more goals: Jamiro Monteiro and Kacper Przybylko (two apiece).
Four MLS teams have graced the CONCACAF Champions League final, but the LA Galaxy are the only club from the United States to ever lift the trophy (2000). Philadelphia hope to advance their debut appearance in the competition past a familiar foe, while Atlanta will look to beat their quarter-final curse following exits in the last eight during each of their previous two attempts.
Columbus Crew vs. Monterrey
Another team who made back-to-back quarter-final departures during their first (and only) outings in the CONCACAF Champions League, Columbus Crew return with a different swagger this time around. Caleb Porter’s side drew their 2021 league opener 0-0 against the Philadelphia Union, but it’s hardly a rush for panic stations ahead of a first-leg meeting at home to Monterrey.
In fact, the defending MLS champions are encouraging early rumors of back-to-back titles as a result of their high standards in defense:
Monterrey occupy fourth in the Liga MX Clausura standings but have lost three in a row travelling to Ohio. The four-time Champions League winners last lifted this title as recently as 2019, although current form doesn’t bode well for Javier Aguirre as the former Mexico manager seeks his first accolade with Los Rayados.
This will be the first time that Columbus Crew and Monterrey have met in any setting, and the former will view this as the perfect opportunity to break new ground in the Champions League against a decorated enemy.
Portland Timbers vs. América
The Portland Timbers will hold a special spot in Champions League history as the only club to ever qualify for the competition by winning the MLS Is Back Tournament. A 7-2 drubbing of Honduran outfit Marathón served as proof that Giovanni Savarese’s side belong among comprehensive company, but beating América is a different danger altogether.
No club in the competition’s history has won more trophies than Las Aguilas (seven), while Portland have already recorded a new best just by making it to the final eight. It bodes well for the MLS outfit that América are without a win in three games for the first time since Santiago Solari took over the team at the start of this year. That includes a 1-0 second-leg defeat to another Honduran side, Olimpia, during the round of 16.
The Timbers’ chances are also boosted by the fact they have the tournament’s incumbent top scorer among their ranks. Striker Yimmi Chara scored a hat-trick as part of a 5-0 win over Marathón at Providence Park, though the pressure is on the Portland, Oregon, hosts to match those levels in the first leg this time around:
Chara failed to score in three outings against América during his days with Monterrey, but the Colombian has hit new levels in confidence as he looks to make a more lasting impression.