TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 7: Landon Donovan #10 of the Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates a second half goal with teammates during CONCACAF Champions League game action against the Toronto FC March 7, 2012 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
2011 MLS Champions and Supporter's Shield winners the LA Galaxy have been drawn into Group 5 for the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League. In their group with them is Isidro Metapan of El Salvador, the El Salvadorian Premier Division 2011 Apertura Champion. Joining these two clubs will be the third place finisher of the 2012 CFU Club Championship. Currently in contention for those three spots are Puerto Rico Islanders, Antigua Barracuda, Caledonia AIA, and W Connection.
The big changes from last year's edition of the Champions League to this year is the groups being reduced from four teams to three and the elimination of the play in round. Since the Galaxy qualified as both MLS Champion and Supporter's Shield winner, the Seattle Sounders were granted the other Pot A spot as Supporter's Shiled runners up.
Since there are now eight groups, only the winners of each group advances on to the quarterfinals. The home and home round robin format is still used, though now with four matches instead of six.
The other rule change that will have a drastic effect on the group stage this year is every group being guaranteed a Mexican or a US team. With eight groups and eight teams from the US and Mexico, there are no longer situations like last year where the Galaxy were in the same group with Morelia.
Taking a look at the other groups, Group 1 features Santos Laguna and Toronto FC. Herediano, 2012 Verano Champion of Costa Rica, drew Real Salt Lake. Olimpia of Honduras won both the Apertura and Clasura of their league, and will have the Houston Dynamo in their group. Honduran runner-up Marathon will battle with the Seattle Sounders.
With only one team emerging, these group stage matches are more important than ever. Play will begin July 31st - August 2nd, with the sixth match day in late October.