The Philadelphia Union take on Saprissa in first-ever Concacaf Champions Cup

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Union, PSN
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

The Concacaf Champions League has been revamped to the Concacaf Champions Cup for the 2024 cycle, and the Philadelphia Union is once again in it for the third time in club history. The club qualified for the Champions Cup by defeating Monterrey in the Leagues Cup third-place match.

The Union’s first-ever berth for the tournament was in 2021 when they were able to make it to the semifinals of the tournament.

Their most recent appearance was last season when the club made it to the semifinals once again. The draw for the 2024 edition of the Concacaf Champions Cup was last night, and the Union found out who their opponent would be.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

A Brand New Tournament

Before learning who the opponent for the Union in Round One will be, it is important to learn about the brand new Concacaf Champions Cup. The 2024 edition had a little bit of revamping done to it, and the first thing would be the name. The tournament has changed from the Concacaf Champions League to the Concacaf Champions Cup. 

Along with the name change, the entire format of the tournament was changed as well. 27 of the region’s top clubs will be participating in the tournament, and some of them have already had their seeds pre-selected. Club America (A3), CF Monterrey (A9), and Tigres UANL (A7) have all had their seeds for the first round pre-selected due to being the three highest-ranked teams available to be selected in Round One. 

Now, there will be five clubs who get to have a bye in the first round of the tournament and get to automatically advance to the Round of 16. These five clubs are the following: CF Pachuca, Columbus Crew, Inter Miami, LD Alajuelense, and SV Robinhood. These clubs were able to skip Round One due to their performances and winning tournaments that they participated in.

ORLANDO, FL – DECEMBER 22: A view of the Concacaf Champions League trophy before the Concacaf Championship between LAFC and Tigres UANL on December 22, 2020, at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, FL. (Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire)

The remaining 19 teams in the draw were separated into Pot 1 and 2. The top eight ranked teams in the competition were placed in Pot 1, while the bottom eleven ranked were placed in Pot 2. The draw would see a team from Pot 1 be selected, and then a seed from Pot A, so the club would know their seed for the tournament. Once all clubs from Pot 1 were selected, the draw would then see the same thing happen with Pot 2 and Pot B so the matchups would be decided. 

Round One of the tournament will be taking place over four weeks. The first week of matchups would be between February 6th to the 9th, with the second week of matchups being February 13th to the 15th. Week three of the first round will be from February 20th to the 22nd, and the final week of Round One will be from February 27th to the 29th. 

The Round of 16 will be a two-legged matchup as well, and that will take place from March 5th to the 7th, and March 12th to the 14th. The quarterfinals will be in April, taking place between April 2 to the 4th, and April 9th to the 11th. The semifinals of the tournament will take place between April 23rd to the 25th, and April 30th to May 2nd. The final of the Concacaf Champions League will be on June 2nd. 

More info on the tournament as a whole can be found in the thread below by PSN’s Jimmy King. 

The Union’s Opponent: Saprissa

The Union was drawn up against Deportivo Saprissa of the Liga FPD, which is the top division in Costa Rica. Saprissa is just finishing up their season now, as they participate in a two-legged final against divisional opponent Herediano. Saprissa finished the season with a record of 18-1-3, scoring 53 goals while only conceding 19 in the 22 matches. The Costa Rican club was able to qualify for the tournament by finishing as one of the two winners of the 2023 Concacaf Central American Cup Play-In.

This will not be the first time that these two sides have matched up, as the Union faced off against them in their run to the semifinals in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League. The Union were able to easily take care of business, defeating Saprissa by an aggregate of 5-0 in the two matches.

CHESTER, PA – DECEMBER 05: A Philadelphia Union Fan holds up a “Believe” sign during the first half of the Major League Soccer Cup Playoffs match between New York City FC and the Philadelphia Union on December 5, 2021, at Subaru Park in Chester, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union & Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire