Washington, D.C., October 22, 2015 – D.C. United learned their opponent in the upcoming knockout round of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League this February – Mexican side Queretaro FC.
United finished as the #2 overall seed and will play away to their Mexican counterparts (Feb 23-25; exact date TBD) before returning home (Mar 1-3) in the aggregate goal series. The semifinal rounds for the competition are scheduled for March 15-17 (1st leg) and April 5-7 (2nd leg).
For the first time in the competitions history, it will be an all MLS-Liga MX quarterfinal round. The matchups are as follows:
#1 Club America vs #8 Seattle Sounders
#2 D.C. United vs #7 Queretaro FC
#3 Real Salt Lake vs #6 Tigres UNAM
#4 Los Angeles Galaxy vs #5 Santos Laguna
While Queretaro FC isn’t one of Mexican soccers traditional powers, they have made quite an impression since being promoted to Liga MX a few years ago. Enigmatic Brazilian Superstar Ronaldinho has been the club’s most famous player recently but he flamed out pretty quickly and is no longer with the club. There are two names that MLS fans will recognize however in former Chivas USA left back Jonathan Bornstein and former 2013 Golden Boot winner Camilo, formerly of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
United is hoping to bring a more sensible approach to this match up as opposed to last winters debacle against Costa Rican power Alajuelensa when United fell 5-2 in the first leg and made it nearly impossible to come back in the home leg which United won 2-1. The most glaring obstacle will remain with the Black-and-Red in that the first leg will occur before United even plays a 2016 MLS match.
That decided disadvantage will have to be figured out by Ben Olsen and his staff as going to Mexico to get a result against a team in midseason form is much more difficult than doing the same in Costa Rica. Also adding into the equation is that while United will do it’s best to keep it’s current roster together through the offseason, inevitable changes will be made to the roster that could further complicate potential rhythm issues heading into the two-leg challenge.
No doubt a much more preferable option would have been if United had been seeded against a fellow MLS team – this essentially would have put both teams on level terms in regard to fitness and lack of meaningful game action. However it was not to be and United must now prepare for a dangerous opponent with little game action aside from preseason games.
Perhaps United could take a cue from the Montreal Impact who spent a good portion of their preseason training and playing Mexican teams en route to their eventual appearance in the CCL finals where they fell short against Mexican powerhouse Club America.