Concacaf Champions League Semifinal Match: Sporting KC vs. Monterrey
Why is Concacaf Important? Because it is to the rest of the world. As America wants respect on the world stage, American soccer fans must start to value Concacaf.
Sporting Kansas City will host a Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League semifinal match for the first time when Mexican side CF Monterrey visits Children’s Mercy Park tonight for an all-important second-leg showdown at 8 p.m. CT.
Sporting Kansas City is halfway through a two-legged CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series against Monterrey after knocking out Toluca and Independiente in the first two rounds of the tournament.
Though the club suffered a 5-0 battering in the first leg at Estadio BBVA Bancomer on Thursday, the fact that Sporting is competing in the CCL semifinals with a possibility to advance to the finals is an impressive accomplishment in itself.
And yet it seems that even the general public within Kansas City doesn’t recognize the importance of this deep CONCACAF run or even what the CONCACAF Champions League is.
And those who do know what CCL is often don’t see why it’s important.
CONCACAF is the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football. The confederation is made up of 41 Member Associations, spanning from northernmost Canada, southernmost French Guiana, and everywhere in between.
Every year, the top16 teams in this confederation compete in the CONCACAF Champions League—officially titled the Scotiabank Champions League and commonly referred to as ‘CCL’— tournament for prize money, entry into the annual FIFA Club World Cup, and continental bragging rights. The action-packed knockout style competition has a fun home-and-away format, resulting in a quickly evolving competition.
Bragging Rights Are Huge
This is North America’s most significant international soccer competition, and an MLS club has never won it. Sporting Kansas City is the last MLS representative standing in the 2019 competition, and they’ve added themselves to the short list of just ten MLS clubs to reach the CCL semifinals since the new CCL format was implemented in 2008-09.
Teams in the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Semifinals:
1. Santos Laguna (12 pts, +13)
2. Sporting Kansas City (9 pts, +7)
3. Tigres UANL (9 pts, +6)
4. CF Monterrey (7 pts, +3)
Just three MLS clubs—Real Salt Lake in 2010-11, Montreal in 2014-15, and Toronto last year— have advanced to the CCL finals.
All three fell short of achieving the feat of being the first MLS club to win the CCL championship.
MLS teams typically get knocked out of the CCL tournament, before people start paying attention to the games.
Whether it’s SKC this year or another club in an upcoming year, winning the Champions League would be a bigger victory for America than just the CONCACAF trophy. American soccer is still fighting to gain respect across the globe, and this would be a huge step in that process.
The process of reaching a place of global respect for American soccer has certainly begun, especially with the MLS sending over Homegrown players like Alphonso Davies and Tyler Adams to established European league where they’ve found success.
However, the U.S.’s men’s soccer teams have still never won an internationally coveted title.
The USMNT has fallen short of the FIFA World Cup Championship and has failed to become the FIFA Confederations Cup champions. The MLS has never made it to the FIFA Club World Cup.
However, winning the CCL means automatic entry into the FIFA Club World Cup. If Sporting KC or another MLS club emerges victorious out of the CCL, they would have the opportunity to represent North American soccer on a global platform.
For an MLS team to buck the trend of an early CCL exit and win the CONCACAF Champions League would show the growth of the MLS and provide potential opportunities for global recognition.
However, if Sporting KC can’t recover at home and fails to advance to the finals, the club has still made a real impact on an internationally prestigious competition which deserves to be recognized in itself.
Sporting will attempt to recover from their five-goal deficit in the second leg of the semifinal series against Monterrey at Children’s Mercy Park on Thursday, April 11that 8:00 PM CT. Tickets can be purchased on SeatGeek.
As Sporting’s Seth Sinovic says “You’ve got to believe” vs. Monterrey.
We are fans and we believe.