Luis Mendez of Municipal Limeño and Mol Babouli of Forge FC during the match of the preliminary round of the Concacaf League tournament held at the Cuscatlan Stadium in San Salvador. (Photo by Carlos Cardenas)
Forge gets extra shot at Champions League berth via retooled Concacaf League
North American soccer’s governing body announced on Thursday changes to the 2020 Concacaf League, shortening the tournament in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and creating a new path to qualify for the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.
Concacaf has extended the single-leg format – initially intended for just preliminary round and round of 16 ties – for the quarter-finals, semifinals and final. The single-leg ties will be hosted by the highest ranked club based on the Concacaf club rankings, as is the case for the preliminary round and round of 16.
The dates for the reformatted, single-leg final rounds will be announced at a later time.
Concacaf said its decision to reformat the tournament, which was approved by the Concacaf Council, aims to “reduce the travel and administrative burden on the participating clubs.”
The 2o2o Concacaf League has reached its round of 16 stage, with 2019 CPL winners Forge FC preparing for a single-leg tie vs. Tauro FC in Panama next Tuesday (8pm ET/TSN3 & TSN5).
Concacaf also announced Thursday it has installed two “play-in” matches featuring the losers of the quarter-finals. Winners of those matches, along with the four semi-finalists, will advance to the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.
Thursday’s change means Forge FC , who occupies the lowest-ranked “Canada 2” seed, will not play a home match in the Concacaf League. A win over Tauro next week would offer the CPL club two opportunities to qualify for next year’s Champions League – by winning its quarter-final, or its play-in game. Forge can also qualify for the 2021 Champions League if they beat Toronto FC in the 2o20 Canadian Championship final.
Previously, the remaining two teams to advance to the Champions League were decided by a mini-table, with the sides collecting the most points across the Concacaf League advancing to the region’s premier club competition.