The quarterfinals have wrapped up, leaving only 4 teams from 3 countries to fight it out in the semi-finals. With 2 teams from Mexico, 1 from the United States, and a battered Toronto FC to represent Canada, the semi-finals may be the end of the line for our Champions League hopes. Let’s have a look at how things break down.
New York Red Bulls have been on fire throughout the Champions League, and that has played out in MLS action as well. As a result of their trouncing of Tijuana, they’ve been propelled to the top of the rankings, with Club América only a short distance behind. Guadalajara will be facing off against the Red Bulls this round, after a hard fought battle against Seattle Sounders. Finally, at the bottom of the semi-final qualifiers, Toronto FC have found themselves struggling. With a home loss to start the MLS season, a weak win against Tigres followed by a big loss, TFC is fighting to keep in the game.
With a short breather before the semi-finals kick-off, TFC is going to need to find their footing fast if they want to show well against Club América. From the elo-predictive radial, both Club América and New York are favoured to advance to the finals, with Toronto and Chivas left behind. As stressed previously, anything can happen, but if Club América continues to play with the skill they’ve displayed, the Reds will have a lot of trouble moving any further.
How has this round affected the Champions League seeding for next year? Club América has already clinched the #1 position for MEX3, while MEX4 has dropped to 6th place as a result of Tijuana’s poor performance. For the same reason, Seattle has dropped the USA1 position to 8th.
Technically, positions 2-5 are still in play. If Guadalajara wins every match, then MEX2 would overtake MEX1. Similarly, if the Red Bulls win every single match, they could push USA3 above MEX2. Near the far end of possibility, if TFC win every match, and Red Bulls win both matches against Guadalajara, then CAN1 could overtake MEX2.
In reality, positions 2 & 3 are basically set. The true battle will be between USA3 & CAN1 as they fight over the #4 spot. There’s a lot more coming for this year’s Champions League, and I personally can’t wait to see how things play out.