CCL draw: MLS champs LAFC face Alajuelense

Newly-crowned MLS Cup champions LAFC will play Costa Rica‘s Alajuelense in the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16, while Orlando City SC was drawn against Tigres in a noteworthy MLS-Liga MX match-up for the knockout round.

The regional clashes were made official during Monday night’s draw for the last-16 of next year’s CCL.

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LAFC booked its place in the 2023 CCL after winning MLS Cup on Saturday by beating the Philadelphia Union in a penalty shootout, while Alajuelense earned its spot after finishing as runners-up in the 2022 CONCACAF League.

Orlando, which won the 2022 U.S. Open Cup, will have the most stern test for an MLS side in the knockout stage in their game against Tigres, which qualified for the CCL as the best-ranked team in the 2021-22 aggregate table from Mexico’s top flight.

Other MLS teams in the last-16 include Western Conference finalists Austin FC, which plays CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championship champions Violette. The Union will play CONCACAF League quarterfinalists Alianza FC, and Canadian Championship winners the Vancouver Whitecaps will battle it out against CONCACAF League semifinalists Real Espana.

The 2021 Apertura runners-up Leon play CONCACAF League quarterfinalists Tauro, 2022 Clausura second-place finishers Pachuca were drawn against CONCACAF League semifinalists Motagua, and 2021 Apertura and 2022 Clausura champions Atlas play CONCACAF League champions Olimpia.

Defending CCL champion Seattle Sounders FC missed out on the tournament altogether after a disappointing 2022 MLS campaign.

This will be the last edition with the current format for the CCL before it expands to a 27-team tournament in 2023-24.

2023 CONCACAF Champions League schedule

Round of 16: March 7-9 (first legs); March 14-16 (second legs)

Quarterfinals: April 4-6 (first legs); April 11-13 (second legs)

Semifinals: April 25-27 (first legs); May 2-4 (second legs)

Final: May 31 (first leg) and June 4 (second leg)



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