There's a lot on the line for MLS clubs in the CONCACAF Champions League this week, and we're not just talking about the quarterfinal berths at stake for Real Salt Lake, Houston Dynamo and Toronto FC.
Even the Seattle Sounders and the LA Galaxy, who have already booked their ticket into the knockout rounds, have a lot to play for: quarterfinal seeding.
GROUP WINNERS ADVANCE
The new CCL format this year consists of eight groups and only the group winners advance to the quarterfinals. The Sounders (3-0-0, 9 pts.) and the LA Galaxy (2-0-1, 7 pts.) have already mathematically clinched Group 4 and Group 5, respectively.
The Houston Dynamo (2-0-1, 7 pts.) need at least a draw against Olimpia (1-1-1, 4 pts.) to capture Group 3. Real Salt Lake (2-1-0, 6 pts.) have to beat Herediano (3-0-0, 9 pts.) by a 1-0 scoreline or by a difference of two goals to advance from Group 2.
Toronto FC (2-0-1, 6 pts.) will have the largest mountain to climb at Santos Laguna (3-0-0, 9 pts.), needing a 3-0 victory or a win by at least two goals if they can score four or more goals.
The tiebreakers for the group stage are as follows:
(1) Greater number of points earned in matches between the teams concerned;
(2) Greater goal difference in matches between the teams concerned;
(3) Greater number of goals scored away from home in matches between the teams concerned;
(4) Greater goal difference in all group matches;
(5) Greater number of goals scored in all group matches;
(6) Greater number of goals scored away in all group matches;
(7) Drawing of lots
QUARTERFINALISTS WILL BE SEEDED
The eight quarterfinalists will be seeded No. 1 through No. 8 based on their group results, with the top group winner (No. 1) facing the lowest ranked (No. 8), No. 2 meeting No. 7, No. 3 battling No. 6 and No. 4 squaring off against No. 5.
Also, the top four seeds will host their quarterfinal second legs.
And so to avoid potential quarterfinal match-ups against the likes of 2011-12 CCL finalists Santos Laguna and Monterrey of Mexico, Seattle and the LA Galaxy can't afford to lose their final group matches.
Here's how the current eight group leaders rank and the quarterfinal matchups that would result as of Monday.
Seedings of CCL group leaders as of Oct. 22, 2012
(Tiebreakers: i. goal difference, ii. goals scored, iii. away goals scored, iv. wins, v. away wins):
No.1: Santos Laguna (9 pts, +11GD, 12GF)
No. 2: Monterrey (9 pts, +9GD, 9GF)
No. 3: Seattle (9 pts, +5GD, 9GF)
No. 4: Herediano (9 pts, +3GD, 4GF)
No. 5: LA Galaxy (7 pts, +7GD, 9GF)
No. 6: Houston (7 pts, +6GD, 8GF)
No. 7: Xelajú (7 pts, +2GD, 6GF)
No. 8: Alajuelense (7 pts, +2GD, 4GF)
Projected quarterfinal matchups based on CCL group standings as of Oct. 22, 2012:
No. 1 Santos Laguna (MEX) vs. No. 8 Alajuelense (CRC)
No. 2 Monterrey (MEX) vs. No. 7 Xelaju (GUA)
No. 3 Seattle Sounders (USA) vs. No. 6 Houston Dynamo (USA)
No. 4 Herediano (CRC) vs. No. 5 LA Galaxy (USA)