The LA Galaxy are now one of three CONCACAF teams to clinch a berth in the Champions League quarterfinals after the Puerto Rico Islanders defeated Isidro Metapan in Puerto Rico tonight. LA with seven points in the group stage still has to face Isidro Metapan in El Salvador, but Metapan can finish with no better than six.
The Seattle Sounders have also clinched their group, with a match still to play, so look for both teams to send out reserve teams in those matches. For the Galaxy, this means they can focus on the three MLS matches in October without having to worry about starters traveling in between bouts with San Jose and Seattle.
The other team to have clinched a spot thus far is CONCACAF juggernaut Monterrey. They defeated Municipal three-nil at home two days ago, making the group's final match between Monterrey and Chorillo irrelevant. That thus far the teams to clinch are all US or Mexico based is surely pleasing to CONCACAF's accountants.
If Toronto FC can defeat Santos Laguna by three goals or more they can take their group, but most likely Santos Laguna are going through to the next round. Real Salt Lake can advance with a 1-0 victory or any victory with a two goal margin. The Houston Dynamo have to defeat Olimpia to advance. UANL can advance by defeating Alajuelense. Guadalajara are in the same boat at Real Salt Lake.
So two of the eight US and Mexican teams are in some trouble, but it's likely the new format is going to give us a quarterfinal featuring most of the US and Mexican teams that entered the tournament. It's even possible that every US and Mexican team to enter the tournament can advance.
That's not just a benefit of the new schedule, that's been awhile coming as MLS purses have been loosened enough to create teams with depth. The LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, and even RSL and Houston are teams that have the depth to succeed in multiple competitions. Quarterfinal matches between American and Mexican teams are going to be hot ticket items, and it's quite possible that CONCACAF is close to getting the international club tournament they've wanted for awhile.