Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Houston, DC United and CONCACAF Champions Cup Dates

The Houston Dynamo and DC United will represent the US in the 2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup. The Dynamo get the invite by winning the MLS Cup while DC make it in due to their Supporters' Shield win.

In all, eight teams will compete in the Champions Cup. The other known sides are Mexican League Clausura winners CF Pachuca and Central American teams CD Olimpia of Honduras, Puntarenas FC of Costa Rica. The winner of the Mexican League Torneo de Apertura, the Caribbean Champion and one other Central American team will also earn spots.

The Champions Cup will take part in three stages, all of which are two leg home-home series.

Here are the dates:
Quarter-Finals: 1st Leg - February 20-22; 2nd Leg - February 27-March 1

Semi-Finals: 1st Leg - March 13-15; 2nd Leg - April 3-5

Finals: 1st Leg - April 17-19; 2nd Leg - April 24-26

The winner of the Cup will represent CONCACAF in the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup, while the Champions Cup runner-up will be one of the three CONCACAF invitees to the 2007 Copa Nissan Sudamericana (South American Cup).

This tournament has been played every year since 1962, however only two US teams have ever won it (DC United - 1998, LA Galaxy - 2000). This marks DC United's seventh trip to the Cup in 11 years (1997-99, 2000, 02, 05, 07. Houston, being only one year old, has never made it to the Cup before. However, the San Jose Earthquakes qualified three times (2002-04).

With these games being played so early in the MLS season (actually, pre-season), they will be at a major disadvantage. It will be interesting to see if the clubs get some sort of exemption from the league so they can practice early. My guess is this will not happen. So if you are a Houston or DC fan, be ready to get to the stadium to support your side, because they are going to need to feed off the crowd.

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