Concacaf did the draw for the 2023 Champions League tournament on Monday, and with LAFC qualified for the competition, that’s of interest to us. To open the knockout competition, the black-and-gold will face Costa Rican outfit LD Alajuelense in the Round of 16 in the spring.
The work is never finished.— LAFC (@LAFC) November 8, 2022
See you in @TheChampions League, @ldacr. pic.twitter.com/yKtVZNzsjH
Alajuelense has been a Champions League fixture in recent years, and are probably considered the second biggest club in Costa Rica, after Saprissa. The current Alajuelense roster features several former MLSers — Giancarlo Gonzalez, Johan Venegas, Alex Lopez, Aubrey David — but also the two biggest Costa Rican stars of their generation, in Celso Borges and Bryan Ruiz. Alajuelense finished second in the 2022 Concacaf League, the feeder competition that featured Central American and Caribbean clubs, which is set to stop play this year, with Concacaf ushering in an expanded Champions League format beginning with the 2023-24 cycle.
I would say this wasn’t the best draw LAFC could have had but it’s also not the worst. Remember in 2020, they basically had the hardest draw possible to the final, and still reached it. In comparison, Alajuelense is not likely to be pushovers, and they could very much spring an upset, but LAFC will be comfortable favorites coming into the home-and-away series. From there, LAFC would play the winner of the Vancouver Whitecaps-RCD España series in the quarterfinals, and one of Atlas, Olimpia, the Philadelphia Union or Alianza in the semifinals, should they progress to that point, of course.
The Round of 16 will kick off the week of Mar. 7-9 for the first leg, and the week of Mar. 14-16 for the return legs, LAFC should be hosting the second leg, and specific scheduling will be announced at a later date. Remember, LAFC will start their competitive slate in MLS action on Feb. 25, when they take on the LA Galaxy in the Rose Bowl, so they will have some game minutes in, likely two games in league play, before kicking off CCL.
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