2024 Concacaf Champions Cup Guide: Who’s playing, how does it work and what’s on the line?

The 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup gets underway on Feb. 6, when top teams from across North and Central America will square off in the region’s most prestigious continental club competition.

This year’s contest will include 27 clubs from 10 associations across the Concacaf region, including two Canadian Premier League sides: 2023 CPL Shield winners Cavalry FC, and 2023 North Star Cup champions Forge FC.

Competing alongside those two CPL outfits will be no shortage of star-studded and historic clubs, from Liga MX giants like Chivas Guadalajara, Club América and Tigres to Major League Soccer contenders like Philadelphia Union, Columbus Crew SC and Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami CF.

So, how does this tournament work? Who else is in it? What kind of chance does your team have at winning it all?

We at have put together this guide on all you need to know — and stay tuned for more in-depth coverage of both CPL teams and their opponents. This will be a long page, so click any of the links below to jump directly to a section.

  1. What is the Concacaf Champions Cup?
  2. What is the format and schedule?
  3. Where can I watch?
  4. Who’s playing, and how did they qualify? (Team-by-team guide)
  5. What’s on the line? Trophy, prize money, and more?
  6. What is the first-round schedule?
  7. Related reading — Team guides, tactical breakdowns & more

What is the Concacaf Champions Cup?

This competition is the successor to what was, between 2008 and 2023, known as the Concacaf Champions League. Before 2008, it was known as… the Concacaf Champions Cup.

Indeed, this tournament is the continuation of a history stretching back to 1962, with 2024 being the 59th edition of the most prestigious continental club competition in the North and Central American region.

In 2023, Concacaf launched a new era for the tournament, returning to the “Champions Cup” name and expanding the competition to include 27 teams, beginning with this 2024 edition. This will be the largest pool of entrants since 1989’s 29-team tournament, and the first ever to include more than one Canadian team (with three guaranteed spots for Canada).

The Concacaf Champions Cup was first contested in 1962 by primarily Mexican and Central American teams, with Guadalajara claiming the first title over Guatemalan outfit Comunicaciones. It’s taken on many forms since then, with the number of participants and competition format changing several times.

This tournament has traditionally been dominated by some of the oldest and most historic teams in Concacaf, with Mexican clubs winning 38 out of 58 titles, including 14 out of 15 in the Champions League era — the only non-Mexican winners being Seattle Sounders FC in 2022. In total, though, 30 different teams have won the tournament, from nine different countries.

Last year’s competition, the last in the 16-team knockout format, was won by Club Léon, who beat MLS side Los Angeles FC in the final.

Club Léon celebrate winning the 2023 Concacaf Champions Cup. (Photo courtesy of Concacaf)

What is the format and schedule?

This year’s tournament is a five-round knockout competition, with each round except for the final being a two-legged home-and-away tie.

Of the 27 teams participating, 22 will start the competition in the first round. A further five clubs — Pachuca, Inter Miami, Columbus Crew, Robinhood and Alajuelense — have received byes to the round of 16 by virtue of winning certain competitions to qualify.

The full bracket for the tournament has been drawn, so each club knows its path to the final (see below). The rough schedule for each round is as follows:

Round First leg Second leg
Round One February 6–8 and 20–22 February 13–15 and 27–29
Round of 16 March 5–7 March 12–14
Quarter-finals April 2–4 April 9–11
Semi-finals April 23–25 April 30–May 2
Final June 2

The full tournament schedule is available here, and the first-round schedule is also included at the bottom of this page.

A few other key tournament rules are worth noting. All two-legged rounds (that is, everything except for the Final) will use away goals as the first tiebreaker. If two clubs are tied on aggregate and on away goals, they’ll proceed to extra time — where away goals no longer count — followed by penalties.

The Concacaf Champions Cup does employ a yellow card accumulation rule, wherein two yellow cards result in a one-match suspension. However, cards are wiped twice in the tournament: after the completion of the first round, and after the quarter-finals.

For two-legged ties beyond the round of 16, the second leg will be hosted by the highest-ranked club based on performances from the round of 16 onwards — teams get three points for a win and one for a draw, with the first tiebreaker being goal difference followed by total goals scored, total away goals, most wins, most away wins, disciplinary record, and finally Concacaf Club Ranking. The tournament Final will also be hosted by the higher-ranked of the two participating sides, based on the same criteria.

Where can I watch?

The 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup will be available to watch in Canada on OneSoccer.

It’ll be broadcast in the United States by FOX and Televisa Univision, and in Mexico by FOX Sports. ESPN will carry matches in Central America and the Caribbean.

A full list of where to watch the tournament is available at Concacaf’s website.

Who’s playing, and how did they qualify?

Here’s a quick primer on each of the 27 clubs participating in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. They’re ordered alphabetically, with each team’s Concacaf Club Ranking next to its name in parentheses.

LD Alajuelense (46)

Location (league): Alajuela, Costa Rica (Primera División)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 26
Best finish: 
Champions (1986, 2004)
First opponent:
New England Revolution or Independiente

How they qualified: Won 2023 Central American Cup

One of the big three clubs in Costa Rica, Alajuelense enter the Champions Cup with some confidence after winning the Central American Cup in December — which gets them a bye to the round of 16 in this competition. They went unbeaten through the tournament, beating Nicaraguan side Real Estelí 4-1 on aggregate in the final. Twenty-nine-time winners of the Costa Rican top flight, Los Leones have a squad primarily built of domestic players. Seven Alajuelense players were in the Costa Rica squad at the last Concacaf Gold Cup, including veteran (and former Arsenal) striker Joel Campbell.

Cavalier FC (105)

Location (league): Kingston, Jamaica (Jamaica Premier League)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 0
Best finish: n/a
First opponent:
FC Cincinnati

How they qualified: 2023 Caribbean Cup runners-up

Not to be confused with Cavalry FC, Cavalier are one of the top Jamaican sides, currently sitting third in the league after 13 games. They finished second in the 2022-23 season, losing the playoff final to Mount Pleasant. After going all the way to the final of the Caribbean Cup in December, they’ll make their Concacaf debut in this tournament against MLS side FC Cincinnati. Their current attack is led by 22-year-old forward Shaniel Thomas and Antiguan striker Jalmaro Calvin, who have five and six goals respectively this year (plus eight for Thomas in the Caribbean Cup). Cavalier did, however, lose last year’s Jamaican Golden Boot winner Collin Anderson.

One name in the squad that may be familiar to readers of Nicholas Hamilton, a former York United striker, has found his footing well after returning to Cavalier last year.

Cavalry FC (54)

Location (league): Calgary, Alta., Canada (Canadian Premier League)
Date founded: 2018
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 0
Best finish: n/a
First opponent: Orlando City SC

How they qualified: Won 2023 CPL Shield (regular season title)

One of two entrants from the Canadian Premier League this year, Cavalry will be making their debut on the continental stage. They raced to the CPL’s regular season title in 2023, finishing top of the table by a 13-point margin. Led by manager Tommy Wheeldon Jr., the Cavs have never finished lower than third in a CPL season in the five-year history of the league. The squad features a strong core of players returning from the Shield-winning 2023 team, including Dutch centre-back and reigning CPL Player of the Year Daan Klomp, as well as electrifying attacking force Ali Musse, who was voted the league’s Players’ Player of the Year by his peers.

Due to weather concerns that will render their home stadium of ATCO Field in Calgary unsafe for their first-round match against Orlando City, Cavalry will be heading to Starlight Stadium on Vancouver Island for their first home game of the tournament.

FC Cincinnati (14)

Location (league): Cincinnati, Ohio, USA (MLS)
Date founded: 2015
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 0
Best finish: n/a
First opponent: Cavalier

How they qualified: Won 2023 MLS Supporters’ Shield

Cincy were dominant in the MLS regular season last year, winning the Supporters’ Shield by six points. They didn’t quite go all the way in the playoffs, losing an extra-time thriller to Ohio rivals Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference Final, but this tournament presents them with another crack at silverware. Under the guidance of head coach Pat Noonan since the 2022 season, Cincinnati went from a Wooden Spoon team in 2021 to top of the table last season. The squad is headlined by reigning MLS MVP Luciano Acosta, who scored 17 goals with 10 assists in 32 regular season games in 2023. They also recently acquired U.S. national team defender Miles Robinson, but they sold star forward Brandon Vázquez to Mexican side Monterrey.

Club América (1)

Location (league): Mexico City, Mexico (Liga MX)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 15
Best finish:
Champions (7 times incl. 2016)
First opponent:
Real Esteli

How they qualified: 2022-23 Liga MX aggregate table

The most successful team in this tournament’s history with seven titles, América are one of the biggest clubs in Mexico, playing out of the fabled Estadio Azteca in the capital. They’ve won a record 14 domestic titles, including the most recent championship — the 2023 Apertura competition, where they beat Tigres in the final in December. Steered by Brazilian manager André Jardine since June, América only lost two matches in that title-winning campaign. Among their top threats are Mexican forward Julián Quiñones and veteran Uruguayan Jonathan Rodríguez, plus former Barcelona midfielder Jonathan dos Santos. Defenders like Néstor Araujo and Kevin Álvarez will also be familiar faces from the Mexican national team.

Columbus Crew SC (8)

Location (league): Columbus, Ohio, USA (MLS)
Date founded: 1994
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 4
Best finish: Quarter-finals (2021)
First opponent: Houston Dynamo or St Louis City SC

How they qualified: Won 2023 MLS Cup

The Crew won their third MLS Cup this past December, beating Los Angeles FC 2-1 on home soil to lift the trophy for the second time in four years. They were led this past season by former CF Montréal boss Wilfried Nancy, and in his first season in Columbus, Nancy guided the Crew to a third-place finish in the Supporters’ Shield standings followed by an incredibly successful playoff campaign. The team has plenty of stars, including Colombian international Cucho Hernández and Uruguayan forward Diego Rossi, plus some Canadian content in the form of Torontonian Jacen Russell-Rowe and former Cavalry FC star Mo Farsi.

Comunicaciones FC (51)

Location (league): Guatemala City, Guatemala (Liga Nacional)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 28
Best finish: 
Quarter-finals (2022)
First opponent:

How they qualified: Won 2023 Central American Cup play-in round

A mainstay in Concacaf competitions the last few years, Comunicaciones are one of the most successful clubs in Guatemala, with 32 domestic titles to their name. They won the Concacaf League in 2021 — a tournament where CPL side Forge FC went to the semifinals — and they’ve appeared in the Concacaf Champions Cup 28 times before this one. Much of the Guatemalan national team’s defensive core plays for Los Cremas, as well as former national captain José Contreras. Comunicaciones won the most recent Guatemalan title, beating Guastatoya in the 2023 Apertura final in December. They lost their Central American Cup quarter-final to Herediano, but defeated Costa Rican side Cartaginés in a play-in tie to qualify for this tournament.

Forge FC (55)

Location (league): Hamilton, Ont., Canada (Canadian Premier League)
Date founded: 
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 1
Best finish: 
Round of 16 (2022)
First opponent:

How they qualified: Won 2023 North Star Cup (CPL playoff champions)

The most decorated club in the Canadian Premier League, Forge won their fourth championship in five years in October as they defeated Cavalry FC in a thrilling extra time final showdown. They’ve played in every CPL Final in the league’s history, and this will be their fifth foray into Concacaf competition — their second in the Champions Cup. They made their debut in that (then known as the Champions League) in 2022, losing a hard-fought tie with Mexican side Cruz Azul. Manager Bobby Smyrniotis has helmed the Hamilton-based side through all five of its seasons, with the help of a core of stars like Kyle Bekker and perennial continental hero David Choinière, who has scored five goals for Forge in Concacaf tournaments.

CD Guadalajara (Chivas) (10)

Location (league): Guadalajara, Mexico (Liga MX)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 8
Best finish: 
Champions (1962, 2018)
First opponent:
Forge FC

How they qualified: 2022-23 Liga MX Clausura runners-up

Arguably the best-supported team in this tournament, Guadalajara are one of the most historic clubs in Concacaf. They won the first-ever edition of this tournament in 1962, and claimed the title again in 2018 on penalties against Toronto FC. With 12 Mexican top-flight titles, Chivas are the second-most successful club in Liga MX, but they haven’t won the league since before their first-round opponents, Forge FC, had ever played a game. They finished fifth in the 2023 Apertura table, but lost their quarter-final to Pumas.

One unique aspect of Guadalajara’s club identity has been their policy of exclusively employing Mexican players. Their squad currently features national team regulars like Roberto Alvarado and Érick Gutiérrez, and this winter they’ve previously added some big-name talent in (somewhat controversial) dual-national youngster Cade Cowell and former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández. At the end of 2023, Chivas also brought in Argentine manager (and former Real Madrid and Roma midfielder) Fernando Gago to take over head coaching duties from Veljko Paunović.

Chivas players celebrate winning the 2018 Concacaf Champions Cup. (Photo courtesy of Concacaf)

CS Herediano (52)

Location (league): Heredia, Costa Rica (Primera División)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 13
Best finish:
Semi-finals (2014-15)
First opponent:

How they qualified: 2023 Central American Cup semi-finalists

With 29 Costa Rican titles, Herediano are one of the biggest clubs in their country, and they have plenty of experience on the Concacaf stage as well with 13 prior appearances in the Champions Cup. They’ve been as far as the semi-finals of this competition, having proven their worth against some top teams in the past. Plus, they won the second ever Concacaf League tournament back in 2017. Herediano’s squad features the likes of captain Yeltsin Tejeda, who played for Costa Rica in both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, as well as former Guadalajara and Houston Dynamo striker Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres. The club lost the final of the most recent Costa Rican championship, but qualified here by advancing as far as the semi-final of the Central American Cup in late 2023.

Houston Dynamo FC (26)

Location (league): Houston, Texas, USA (MLS)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 7
Best finish: 
Semi-finals (2008)
First opponent:
St. Louis City SC

How they qualified: Won 2023 U.S. Open Cup

The Dynamo lifted their first trophy since 2018 last summer, beating Inter Miami in the U.S. Open Cup final. They went on to finish fourth in the MLS Western Conference table, winning two playoff rounds before bowing out to Los Angeles FC in the conference final. Led since 2022 by gaffer Ben Olsen, Houston’s roster has plenty of talent, including former Atlético Madrid midfielder Héctor Herrera, Paraguayan designated player Sebastián Ferreira and rising Panamanian star Adalberto Carrasquilla.

CA Independiente (53)

Location (league): La Chorrera, Panama (Liga Panameña de Fútbol)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 1
Best finish: 
Quarter-finals (2019)
First opponent:
New England Revolution

How they qualified: 2023 Central American Cup semi-finalists

Winners of the last three consecutive Panamanian league titles, Independiente (also known as CAI de La Chorrera) have found themselves on an excellent run of form lately. The club is perhaps best known for their trip to the 2019 Concacaf Champion League, where they routed MLS side Toronto FC in the first round before losing a very close contest with Sporting Kansas City in the quarter-finals. They’ll also be familiar in Canada as a former Concacaf League opponent of Forge FC, who beat the Panamanian side 2-0 on aggregate in 2021 en route to the semi-finals.

Inter Miami CF (21)

Location (league): Miami, Fla., USA (MLS)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 0
Best finish: n/a
First opponent:
Nashville SC or Moca FC

How they qualified: Won 2023 Leagues Cup

Jordi Alba. Sergio Busquets. Luis Suárez. Oh, and Lionel Messi.

The greatest player of all time, and some of his closest friends, feature in the roster of Inter Miami, who will make their Concacaf debut after winning last summer’s inaugural Leagues Cup. This fairly new club, launched in part by David Beckham back in 2018, has its eyes on winning it all this year. Led by former Barcelona and Argentina manager Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino, Inter Miami will prove a tricky side to beat with all their starpower, although Messi et al. still weren’t able to squeeze into the MLS playoffs last year. They won the Leagues Cup thanks to a glorious run of form in August, but they won just one of their last eight games and finished 14th in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps a refreshing off-season will give this legend-laden team some new life?

Moca FC (109)

Location (league): Moca, Dominican Republic (Liga Dominicana de Fútbol)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 0
Best finish: 
First opponent:
Nashville SC

How they qualified: 3rd place in 2023 Caribbean Cup

One of the oldest and most historic teams in the Dominican top flight, Moca have enjoyed something of an underdog run to get to this tournament. Qualifying for the Caribbean Cup by coming third in the 2023 Dominican league table, they would finish second in Group A and go on to beat Jamaican side Harbour View in the third place playoff after losing their semifinal. Moca have won 13 domestic championships, but haven’t done so since the fully professional Liga Dominicana was launched in 2015. Argentine forward Gustavo Ascona was Moca’s top scorer in the Caribbean Cup with four goals.

CF Monterrey (2)

Location (league): Monterrey, Mexico (Liga MX)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 11
Best finish: 
Champions (5 times including 2021)
First opponent:

How they qualified: 2022-23 Liga MX aggregate table

Another massive club from northern Mexico, Monterrey have been a heavyweight in Concacaf competitions for a while. They won this tournament back in 2021 for their fifth title — all of them since 2010. They became the second Mexican team to complete a continental treble when they claimed the 2019-20 Copa MX, to go along with their Liga MX Apertura title and Concacaf Champions Cup win in 2019. Although they finished second in the league table in the most recent campaign, they had an early exit in the playoffs courtesy of Atlético San Luis in the quarter-final.

Monterrey’s squad is highlighted by national team stars like defenders Héctor Moreno and Jesús Gallardo, as well as Jesús ‘Tecatito’ Corona. Their splashiest signing of the January window so far was adding U.S. international striker Brandon Vázquez, who scored his first goal for Rayados on Jan. 24.

Nashville SC (13)

Location (league): Nashville, Tenn., USA (MLS)
Date founded: 
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 0
Best finish: 
First opponent:

How they qualified: 2023 Leagues Cup runners-up

Another Concacaf debutant with designs on winning the whole thing, Nashville come into this competition in the first round after a loss on penalties to Inter Miami in the inaugural Leagues Cup final. They beat a pair of top Liga MX sides on the way there, though, taking down América (on penalties) and Monterrey. They didn’t get as far they wanted in the MLS playoffs, finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference before losing a first-round series to Orlando City.

Led by 2022 MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar, this is a side that can cause problems for any team. They’ve got some Canadian flair, in the form of Haligonian winger Jacob Shaffelburg and former Canadian Premier League star Lukas MacNaughton. Plus, plenty of U.S. internationals like Walker Zimmerman, Shaq Moore and recent addition Tyler Boyd.

New England Revolution (23)

Location (league): Foxborough, Mass., USA (MLS)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 4
Best finish: 
Quarter-finals (2022)
First opponent:

How they qualified: 6th place in 2023 Supporters’ Shield standings

The Revs come into the Champions Cup for the fifth time after finishing fifth in the MLS Eastern Conference last year. They couldn’t get past Philadelphia Union in the first round of the playoffs, but it was a step forward nonetheless after finishing 20th in the league the year before. This tournament will see New England play their first matches under new head coach Caleb Porter, who was appointed in December to replace Bruce Arena. They haven’t made massive changes to the squad, although they did say goodbye to Gustavo Bou, who scored 48 goals for the club in the past five years. The Revs are still led up front by Spanish attacker Carles Gil, who will be a handful for any team he goes up against. As far as Canadian content goes, Mark-Anthony Kaye is a key part of New England’s midfield as well.

Orlando City SC (11)

Location (league): Orlando, Fla., USA (MLS)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 1
Best finish: 
Round of 16 (2023)
First opponent:
Cavalry FC

How they qualified: 2nd place in 2023 Supporters’ Shield standings

Orlando will be welcoming CPL side Cavalry FC to Inter&Co Stadium in February, as they kick off what they’re hoping could be a trophy-winning season. The purple club had its first-ever taste of silverware when it lifted the U.S. Open Cup in 2022, and followed that up by finishing second in the Supporters’ Shield race in 2023. Now, they’re making a second consecutive appearance in Concacaf, hoping to avenge last year’s round of 16 defeat on away goals to Tigres.

Head coach Óscar Pareja is at the helm of a talented team that includes young Uruguayan designated player Facundo Torres and Argentine winger Martín Ojeda. American striker Duncan McGuire also broke out as an efficient goalscorer last year, as well. For 2024, they’ve added some trophy-winning experience by signing two-time MLS Cup and 2022 Concacaf Champions Cup winner Nicolás Lodeiro, who came to Florida after eight years as the Seattle Sounders’ best player. Plus, just days before the start of the tournament, they announced the signing of DP forward Luis Muriel from Italian side Atalanta.

Nicolas Lodeiro celebrates with the trophy after winning the Concacaf Champions Cup with Seattle Sounders. (Photo courtesy of Concacaf)

CF Pachuca (7)

Location (league): Pachuca, Mexico (Liga MX)
Date founded: 
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 9
Best finish: 
Champions (5 times incl. 2017)
First opponent:
Philadelphia Union or Saprissa

How they qualified: 2022–23 Liga MX Apertura or Clausura champions with higher aggregate table points (Won Apertura)

The oldest club in this tournament, the 131-year-old Pachuca remain a top side in Mexican football today. They won the 2022 Apertura title, and thanks to having more total points across the 2022-23 campaign than Clausura champions Tigres, they received a bye to the round of 16 in this tournament. Pachuca have won seven Mexican titles in total, as well as five Concacaf Champions Cups, most recently claiming the 2017 final over Tigres.

This Pachuca side might not boast the starpower they did when they had the likes of Hirving Lozano and Enner Valencia, but they’ve built a strong team around El Tri midfielder Érick Sánchez, under Uruguayan manager Guillermo Almada. They finished 11th — outside the playoffs — in the Liga MX Apertura season that wrapped up in December, but they’ll nonetheless prove a tough opponent for either Philadelphia or Saprissa.

Philadelphia Union (5)

Location (league): Philadelphia, Pa., USA (MLS)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 2
Best finish:
Semi-finals (2023)
First opponent:

How they qualified: 3rd place in 2023 Leagues Cup

Over the course of Jim Curtin’s 10-year reign as head coach, Philadelphia have become one of the most consistent teams in MLS and have continuously challenged for trophies. In 2022, they won the Eastern Conference and went on a playoff run that ended in narrow defeat in the MLS Cup final, following it in 2023 with a fifth overall finish and a second-round playoff loss. They also went to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup and the Leagues Cup, the latter of which earned them qualification for this tournament after they beat Monterrey in the third place game.

With a deep roster full of homegrown talent, the Union are a well-coached side that doesn’t necessarily rely on star power, though the squad boasts key designated players like Hungarian midfielder Dániel Gazdag, Argentine forward Julián Carranza and Danish striker Mikael Uhre — the three of whom combined for 39 goals between them in 2023. German fullback Kai Wagner was also a standout player, with eight assists last season. The biggest question around Philly right now will be whether club captain and current free agent Alejandro Bedoya will be back with the team in 2024.

Real Estelí (78)

Location (league): Estelí, Nicaragua (Liga Primera)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 7
Best finish: 
Round of 16 (2021)
First opponent: 
Club América

How they qualified: 2023 Central American Cup runners-up

The second-most successful club in Nicaragua with 20 league titles, Real Estelí have been the top side from their country in the past couple of decades. They won eight consecutive championships from 2006 to 2014 — a record for any club in Concacaf — and last year became the first Nicaraguan club to reach a continental final, losing the Central American Cup final to heavily-favoured Costa Rican side Alajuelense, beating teams like Saprissa and Independiente along the way. This will be Estelí’s eighth appearance in the Concacaf Champions Cup, but they’re still looking for their first-ever win in the competition.

The current squad provides the backbone of the Nicaraguan national team, including the country’s all-time caps leader Josué Quijano and all-time leading goalscorer and captain Juan Barrera. With the recent addition of Mexican midfielder Iván Ochoa, this Estelí team is a very experienced group that will look to cause problems for Liga MX giants América.

SV Robinhood (99)

Location (league): Paramaribo, Suriname (SVB Eerste Divisie)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 13
Best finish: 
Runners-up (1983)
First opponent:
Toluca or Herediano

How they qualified: Won 2023 Caribbean Cup

Though based in Suriname on the northern edge of South America, Robinhood are the reigning champions of the Concacaf Caribbean Cup, beating Jamaican side Cavalier in the final in December. The most successful Surinamese club with 26 domestic titles, Robinhood also have plenty of experience in continental football, reaching the Champions Cup final in 1972, 1976, 1977 and 1983. They won the most recent Suriname league title in July, going 17-2-2 in the season with a +61 goal difference.

The current squad has a handful of players in the Surinamese national team setup, including striker Shaquille Cairo, who scored five goals in the Caribbean Cup, and winger Jamilhio Rigters. As Caribbean Cup champions, Robinhood receive a bye to the round of 16, where they’ll take on either Mexican side Toluca or Costa Rican outfit Herediano.

Deportivo Saprissa (44)

Location (league): San José, Costa Rica (Primera División)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 35
Best finish:
Champions (1993, 1995, 2005)
First opponent:
Philadelphia Union

How they qualified: Won 2023 Central American Cup play-in round

The most successful non-Mexican club in the Concacaf Champions Cup, Saprissa have won this tournament three times — most recently in 2005 — and they’ve been runners-up twice more. They’ve won more Costa Rican league titles (39) than any other club, including both the Clausura and Apertura honours in 2023.

They also won the Concacaf League in 2019 and went to the tournament’s final in 2020, most recently appearing in the 2021 Concacaf Champions Cup where they lost in the round of 16 to Philadelphia Union — ironically, also their first-round foe this year. Saprissa’s squad is led by Argentine captain Mariano Torres, and star Jamaican striker Javon East who scored 12 goals in the most recent league season. Costa Rican forward Ariel Rodríguez is a key veteran too, having scored 11 last campaign. One other familiar name will be former Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Cincinnati defender Kendall Waston, who represented Costa Rica at both the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.

St. Louis City SC (47)

Location (league): St. Louis, Mo., USA (MLS)
Date founded: 
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 0
Best finish: 
First opponent:
Houston Dynamo FC

How they qualified: 2023 MLS Western Conference regular season winners

The youngest side in this tournament, St. Louis started play in MLS just last season. They hit the ground running in their inaugural campaign, finishing first in the Western Conference and fourth overall in the league, making waves by winning the first five games in club history. They couldn’t get past Sporting Kansas City in the first round of the playoffs, but nonetheless head coach Bradley Carnell would count their first year as a success.

Club captain Roman Bürki, formerly of Borussia Dortmund, was MLS’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 2023, and veteran American defender Tim Parker was a finalist for Defender of the Year, being named to the league’s Best XI. German midfielder Eduard Löwen was another standout, with five goals in 16 games to be nominated for MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2023. Brazilian forward João Klauss is currently the team’s best scoring threat after scoring 10 in 2023 (tied with Nicholas Gioacchini, whom the club recently sold to Italian side Como).

Tigres UANL (3)

Location (league): Monterrey, Mexico (Liga MX)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 9
Best finish: 
Champions (2020)
First opponent:
Vancouver Whitecaps FC

How they qualified: 2022-23 Liga MX Apertura or Clausura champions with lower aggregate table points (Won Clausura)

One of the most dominant Mexican teams in the past decade, Tigres have serious ambitions to win this tournament for the second time in club history. They’ve won eight Liga MX titles, including five in the last 10 years — most recently the 2023 Clausura title. In the most recent campaign — the 2023 Apertura — they went to the final, but lost on aggregate to América after extra time in the second leg.

The team’s biggest star remains French striker André-Pierre Gignac, who has scored 203 goals for the club in 363 games. He’s got 16 goals in the Concacaf Champions Cup alone, including the winning goal in the 2020 final against Los Angeles FC. Argentine striker Nicolás Ibáñez has been a dangerous attacker for them since 2023 as well, and recent marquee addition Juan Brunetta is poised to add some additional creativity in midfield.

CD Toluca (6)

Location (league): Toluca, Mexico (Liga MX)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 12
Best finish: 
Champions (1968, 2003)
First opponent:

How they qualified: 2022-23 Liga MX Apertura runners-up

Although they lost to Pachuca in the 2022 Apertura final, Toluca have been consistent contenders in Liga MX the last few years. They’ve won 10 national league titles, although not since 2010, finishing as runners-up three times since. Still, they’re making their 13th appearance in the Champions Cup, having won it all in both 1968 and 2003.

Toluca finished 12th — outside the playoffs — in the most recent Liga MX campaign, but several members of their squad have been frequent contributors to the Mexican national team in the past year, like midfielder Alexis Vega. Brazilian goalkeeper Tiago Volpi is also key to their success, as is Chilean captain Valber Huerta. Despite their disappointing Apertura 2023, Toluca conceded just 19 goals in 17 games — fifth fewest in the league — and had the fifth-best goal difference, despite finishing well behind the top sides.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC (33)

Location (league): Vancouver, B.C., Canada (MLS)
Date founded:
Appearances in CCC/CCL: 3
Best finish: 
Semi-finals (2016-17)
First opponent:
Tigres UANL

How they qualified: Won 2023 Canadian Championship

The third Canadian side in this competition, the Whitecaps lifted the Voyageurs’ Cup in 2023 after beating CF Montréal in the final to win their third Canadian Championship — and their second in a row, having won in 2022 as well. This will be the Whitecaps’ fourth time in a Concacaf tournament, their best performance being their 2016-17 run to the semifinals — where they lost to Tigres, their first-round opponent this year. Last year, they beat Real España in the round of 16 but lost the quarter-finals to Los Angeles FC. The current ‘Caps squad, led by head coach Vanni Sartini, features star players like Ryan Gauld and Andrés Cubas, plus key Canadian talents like Sam Adekugbe and Ali Ahmed.

Vancouver Whitecaps in the 2023 Concacaf Champions Cup. (Photo courtesy of Concacaf)

What’s on the line?

First and foremost, a trophy, and the right to be called champions of Concacaf. A new trophy was unveiled in 2018, and will be lifted once again by the 2024 winners in June.

Also not to be ignored is the expanded pool of prize money available to this year’s champion. The tournament winner is set to receive north of $5 million U.S., which Concacaf says is an increase of more than five times compared to previous editions of the CCL.

The benefits of winning the Concacaf Champions Cup go further than that, however. This year’s champion will earn a spot in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup, set to be played in the United States in summer 2025. It’ll be the first Club World Cup to feature a new 32-team format.

This year’s Champions Cup winner will join the previous three Concacaf Champions Cup holders Monterrey, Seattle Sounders FC and Club Léon, and will have the opportunity to compete against the biggest clubs in the world. Teams already qualified for the 2025 Club World Cup include Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, with this year’s UEFA Champions League winner and a handful of other major European clubs (based on UEFA rankings) set to be included.

Ultimately, only one team can win the Champions Cup and earn all the spoils and opportunities that go with it, but the benefits to clubs playing in it — particularly those from outside of Liga MX and MLS — are plentiful.

For smaller clubs, including the two Canadian Premier League sides, this opportunity to play against the region’s best teams, on a high-profile stage, against some genuine stars of the game, could be transformative.

(Photo courtesy of Concacaf)

Full first round schedule

The full schedule for the tournament is available here.

Tuesday, Feb. 6

Comunicaciones vs. Monterrey — Leg 1 (8 p.m. ET)
Real Estelí vs. Club América — Leg 1 (10 p.m. ET)

Wednesday, Feb. 7

Herediano vs. Toluca — Leg 1 (6 p.m. ET)
Forge FC vs. Guadalajara — Leg 1 (8 p.m. ET)
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Tigres — Leg 1 (10 p.m. ET)

Tuesday, Feb. 13

Guadalajara vs. Forge FC — Leg 2 (10 p.m. ET)

Wednesday, Feb. 14

Tigres vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — Leg 2 (8 p.m. ET)
Club América vs. Real Estelí — Leg 2 (10:15 p.m. ET)

Thursday, Feb. 15

Toluca vs. Herediano — Leg 2 (8 p.m. ET)
Monterrey vs. Comunicaciones — Leg 2 (10:15 p.m. ET)

Tuesday, Feb. 20

St. Louis City SC vs. Houston Dynamo — Leg 1 (8 p.m. ET)
Saprissa vs. Philadelphia Union — Leg 1 (10 p.m. ET)

Wednesday, Feb. 21

Independiente vs. New England Revolution — Leg 1 (8 p.m. ET)
Cavalry FC vs. Orlando City SC — Leg 1 (10 p.m. ET)

Thursday, Feb. 22

Moca vs. Nashville SC — Leg 1 (7 p.m. ET)
Cavalier vs. FC Cincinnati — Leg 1 (9 p.m. ET)

Tuesday, Feb. 27

Orlando City SC vs. Cavalry FC — Leg 2 (6 p.m. ET)
Philadelphia Union vs. Saprissa — Leg 2 (8:15 p.m. ET)
Houston Dynamo vs. St. Louis City SC — Leg 2 (10:30 p.m. ET)

Wednesday, Feb. 28

FC Cincinnati vs. Cavalier — Leg 2 (7 p.m. ET)
Nashville SC vs. Moca — Leg 2 (9:15 p.m. ET)

Thursday, Feb. 29

New England Revolution vs. Independiente — Leg 2 (8:15 p.m. ET)

Related reading — Team guides, tactical analysis & more

Concacaf Champions Cup 2024 Team Guides:

Tactical Breakdown: How Chivas look under Fernando Gago ahead of Concacaf tie vs. Forge (by Kristian Jack)

‘An incredible moment’: Forge FC’s Noah Jensen reflects on professional debut in the Concacaf Champions Cup (by Mitchell Tierney)

‘It still replays in my head’: Forge FC’s Jordan Hamilton on 2018 Concacaf Champions Cup Final vs. Chivas (by Mitchell Tierney)

Concacaf Champions Cup 2024: Building dream 5-a-side teams (by the CPL Newsroom team)

Four former CPL faces in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup (by Ryan Galati)

MATCH PREVIEW: Forge FC vs. C.D. Guadalajara — 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup (by Mitchell Tierney)

‘Biggest game in club history’: Fraser Aird and Cavalry ready to test themselves in Concacaf Champions Cup (by Mitchell Tierney)

‘A very cool experience’: Cavalry FC’s Shamit Shome can’t wait for Concacaf Champions Cup return (by Mitchell Tierney)

MATCH PREVIEW: Cavalry FC vs. Orlando City SC — 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup (by Mitchell Tierney)