Tuesday June 5th at 11 am at CONCACAF's New York headquarters, the draw for this year's CCL group stage will take place. Presuming that CONCACAF aren't as comically late with this sort of thing as MLS notoriously is, the results will be then announced on their website, facebook, twitter etc. I've no idea if it will be reported live or just presented all at once as a fait accompli, but whatever they come up with I guess we'll have to accept as fair and honest. CONCACAF would never fix this sort of thing, oh no.
Of course, they've already done their best to ensure as many US and Mexican teams make it to the knockout stages as possible by mandating that they can't be paired against each other, one unnecessary step beyond the sensible rule of teams from the same country being kept apart.
That means all 8 groups will contain one US or Mexican side, and given that Toronto FC are in pot B, that means they'll get one of the following teams from pot A, either LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, UANL Tigres or Santos Laguna. The group will be rounded off by one of the teams from pot C,Municipal (Guatemala), Tauro (Panama), Aguila (El Salvador), Real Esteli (Nicaragua), C.D. FAS (El Salvador), and whichever 3 teams qualify from the Caribbean.
That's unfair, but all old news really, and maybe this is as well, but one little extra thing in the blurb put up on CONCACAF's website today caught my attention, which is how the quarter finals will be determined, and it seems to me just one extra hurdle put in the way of a small team making it too far and getting in the way or more US/Mexico matchups in the semi final. That detail is as follows:
The team that finishes with the best record in the Group Stage will face the team with the eighth-best record in the quarterfinals. Two will play seven, three will play six, and four will face five.
In a way, this is a good thing, as it takes away the 'randomness' of a draw and suspicions that could bring, while also giving a motivation for the Mexican teams to play more of their first teams, thus improving the integrity of the competition. But what it also it does is stack the deck against TFC or any other unworthy club that might rudely crash the planned US/Mexico quarter finals orgy, and really limit their chances of making the semis.
There's a very good chance that the big clubs that qualify (probably the Mexican teams, maybe the american teams as well, though that's less of a sure thing) will dominate their group, winning all 4 games, getting 12 points and running up a large goal difference, and securing a good seeding position.
On the other hand, any of the teams from the more unimportant countries, whether it's TFC or other teams such as Isidro Metapan who made the quarter finals last year, will have had to scrap their way through two games against one of the big boys, and is thus more likely to have dropped points on the way, probably scraping through with 9 points or less.
Rather than a randomish draw as their reward, (last year the 4 second place teams were drawn against the 4 first place teams, so there was a bit of luck involved, as there should be in any draw) they will be guaranteed as tough a game as possible. Hardly seems fair really, but then what would you expect.
Anyway, we'll have news of the whole draw and TFC's fate in particular here sometime after 11 tomorrow.