Yes, the Champions League Draw is Relatively Tough. Relatively.
The CONCACAF Champions League groups have been chosen, and neatly summarized by Mr. Bueno at Sideline Views. Over at MLSNet, it is summarized as "D.C. United has been given perhaps the toughest test of Major League Soccer's teams in the group stage..." And yes, the schedule contains some nasty fixtures. But, while it is a tough draw compared to some of the other groups, this is not an impossible mountain to climb.
Let's engage in premature expectation setting. Two of the four teams in United's group will advance, and let's assume the following:
- Cruz Azul will qualify into the group.
- The Honduran teams are pretty much interchangeable with El Salvador (though it will probably be more difficult to win in El Salvador)
- United is playing in form closer to that of the last four games of this season than the first four games.
- United : Saprissa = Draw
- Honduras/El Salvador : United = Draw
- United : Cruz Azul = Win
- Saprissa : United = Loss
- Cruz Azul : United = Loss
- United : Honduras / El Salvador = Win
It's also, I think, a very good thing that the first game is Saprissa at home. Before any yellow card peril is considered, that result will certainly shape the rest of the matches. A draw is not disastrous, a win would put United ahead of the game, and a loss makes things difficult, but at least clarifies the matter early enough to shape tactical considerations.
So all in all, I'm hopeful about this draw, and given that regardless of what has happened this season, this team was built to compete internationally, this is a competition we must expect our team to advance in.
Labels: 08-09 CONCACAF Champions League