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Tuesday kickoff

CCL Draw, Gonzalez accolades, and MLS to Nashville

Five MLS teams learned their Champions League fate and the spotlight will be on Toronto to make a deep run after its 2017 season. Meanwhile, Jonathan Gonzalez gets a huge award and MLS looks poised to come to Nashville. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 19, 2017
12:30 AM

THE DRAW FOR THE 2018 CONCACAF Champions League took place on Monday night and it will mark the start of a new format where the tournament will essentially start at the Round of 16. There are five MLS teams involved who will seek to become the first CONCACAF Champion from that league.

Liga MX teams have dominated the tournament with only two MLS teams ever coming close. In 2011, Real Salt Lake narrowly lost to Monterrey and in 2016, the Montreal Impact played Club America tight but fell apart in the second half of the second leg.

There is no question that Liga MX is the best league in CONCACAF but MLS teams have also been hampered with the timing of the knockout stages of the tournament. Typically, the early stages of the knockout take place in the MLS preseason while the Liga MX clausura is in midseason. Still, MLS teams are desperately trying to find a way to pull off the upset.

The five MLS teams in this tournament were selected based on how they performed in the 2016 league and cup competitions. That has sometimes prevented the best teams from taking part as the quality of MLS teams can rise and fall dramatically in a short period of time.

In this tournament, however, MLS teams have it a bit of luck. Most teams have a favorable draw and two of the best teams from 2017 (Seattle and Toronto) will be taking part.

In the Round of 16, Seattle will take on El Salvador's Santa Tecia, the New York Red Bulls will take on Olimpia from Honduras, MLS Cup Champion Toronto FC was drawn against another MLS Team in Colorado, and FC Dallas will take on Panama's Tauro.

The first leg of the Round of 16 will take place between February 20-22. The second leg will go from February 27-March 1.

Should MLS teams prevail in the Round of 16, all could potentially face a Liga MX team in the quarterfinals. The first leg of those games will be March 6-8 and the second leg on March 13-15.

Gonzalez named to Liga MX Best XI

While Jonathan Gonzalez, 18, had been named to Liga MX Best XI by various Mexican publications last week, yesterday he earned the official recognition from the league itself. That is a heck of an achievement for an American teenager who has represented U.S. youth national teams from the U-14 through the U-20 levels.

The Mexican federation remains close on his heels hoping he will switch. Anything can happen but what works in favor of U.S. Soccer is that Gonzalez has a good relationship with U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos as well as many top American players of his generation.

Big day for Nashville?

Where will Major League Soccer expand to next? The final candidates are Detroit, Sacramento, Nashville, and Cincinnati. Those four cities are competing for two bids along with the Beckham’s Miami bid which is looking increasingly likely.

On Tuesday, MLS2Nashville put out a press release that all but seems like MLS is going to be coming to Tennessee. At 5pm EST, there is going to be an event at the Country Music Hall of Fame to make a “significant announcement about the future of soccer in Nashville.” In attendance will be Don Garber, Mayor Megan Barry, and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

That doesn’t sound like an event where Garber will announce Nashville won’t be getting a team.

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