After Monday night’s draw, Atlanta United now know their round of 16 opponent in the 2019 edition of the CONCACAF Champions league.
Atlanta United, meet CS Herediano.
The Five Stripes now know their CONCACAF Champions League fate after the confederation drew the sixteen teams on Monday night into the Round of 16. Atlanta’s opponent is Club Sport Herediano from Costa Rica.
The two teams will face off in a two-legged round-of-16 match-up in February. The first match will be on February 19. Atlanta was drawn from pot A while Herediano was drawn from pot B. Because of Herediano’s spot in pot B, they will host the first leg in Heredia before the return leg takes place in Atlanta.
More info on CS Herediano
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CS Herediano are a club from Liga FPD, which is the top flight in Costa Rica. They qualified for the Champions League by winning the 2018 Concacaf League, which is a regional tournament for Central American and Caribbean teams.
This will be Atlanta’s first appearance in the tournament. CS Herediano, on the other hand, will be appearing in the tournament for the ninth time, according to the Champions League website. The club’s record in the tournament is 15-10-13, with 62 goals for and 58 goals against. Their best finish was a semifinals appearance in the 2014-15 edition of the tournament. They lost to Club America (Mexico) 6-3 on aggregate.
Atlanta’s path to the trophy
Should Atlanta defeat CS Herediano through two legs, the team will play the winner of the Alianza (El Salvador) and Monterrey (Mexico) series.
Monterrey is one of two Liga MX teams on Atlanta’s side of the bracket. This is important to note because Liga MX teams have won every iteration of the Concacaf Champions League in its current format. That’s 10 Champions League tournament wins for Liga MX teams.
Also of note is that Monterrey are the most successful Concacaf club in the Concacaf Champions League in its current format, winning three titles. Those three titles were won consecutively from 2010 to 2013.
Alianza will be making their fourth appearance in the tournament. They have not advanced past the group stage of the tournament.
Should Atlanta advance past Monterrey or Alianza, they will play either Independiente (Panama), Toronto FC, Sporting Kansas City, or Toluca (Mexico).
Atlanta will face the best teams in CONCACAF. Their stiffest competition will be the Liga MX teams because of their dominance, but any team Atlanta encounters will be strong and competitive. The Five Stripes will be in a peculiar position. The tournament takes place at the tail end of the MLS offseason and the team will be under new management.
There is also a strong chance Atlanta will be without Miguel Almiron, who is most likely leaving for the Premier League this winter. The roster will look different anyway because of different transactions over the offseason and roster turnover. Whoever is in charge of coaching the Five Stripes will have their work cut out for them.
If all goes well, Atlanta can become the first MLS team to win the tournament. If that happens, then one leg of the final will be hosted in Mercedes Benz Stadium in front of (most likely) 70,000+ fans.