Champions League undergoes changes for 2012/13 edition
CONCACAF announced Thursday changes to the format of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Beginning with the 2012/2013 edition, the fifth in the competition's history, the Preliminary Round will be eliminated and all 24 participating teams will enter the competition in the Group Stage.
In the previous four tournaments, 16 teams met in eight Preliminary Round pairings with the series winners joining eight-seeded teams in the Group Stage.
Under the new structure, the Group Stage will consist of eight groups of three teams.
Teams from the same country cannot be drawn together unless one is a wildcard replacing a team from a country without a suitable venue. Additionally, there will be a team from Mexico or the USA in each of the eight groups.
Only the eight group winners will advance to the Championship Round, which will remain unchanged with quarterfinal, semifinal and final series being played in a two-leg, home-and-home system. Under the current format, group winners and runners-up progressed to the knock-out phase. Mixed weekend for Mexican teams; Keane goes on loan
It was a mixed weekend in Mexico for Champions League teams. Pumas routed Morelia 3-0 on Sunday to reach four points following the first two games of the season. Argentine Martin Bravo contributed a goal and assist for the Mexico City-side.
Monterrey was surprised 1-0 by Tijuana in Baja California on an injury time goal by Javier Gandolfi.
Lastly, Santos beat Atlante 2-1 in Cancun on Saturday for its first win of the season. The victory came a day after the team announced the signing of Spanish midfielder Marc Crosas.
The LA Galaxy sent another player on a short-term loan last week, when Irish forward Robbie Keane joined Aston Villa. Keane played in his first game on Sunday, coming in as a sub against an Everton side that featured his Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan.
The Sounders were active last week as well, adding Denmark's Christian Sivebaek. The 23-year-old midfielder comes from Midtjylland in his native country.
In other MLS news, Toronto FC announced on Thursday that it had sold over 25,000 tickets in only a week for its quarterfinal home leg against the LA Galaxy in the Champions League on March 7. The match will be played at indoors at Rogers Centre rather than BMO Field.
Isidro Metapan, who faces Pumas in the Champions League quarterfinals, tied FAS 1-1 on Saturday. Metapan returns to action today against Vista Hermosa.
Teams prepare for Women's Olympic Qualifying
On Tuesday, the United States announced its final roster for the 2012 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying tournament, which starts this week in Vancouver, Canada.
Well-known veterans such as Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and Christie Rampone were joined by Vancouver-area native Sydney Leroux, who was the first player chosen in the Jan. 13 Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) draft by the Atlanta Beat.
With the seventh pick in the draft, defending WPS champion Western New York Flash selected Stanford University and Mexico national team standout Teresa Noyola. That honor capped off an exciting week for the 23-year-old midfielder, who on Jan. 6 won the 2011 Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy, presented to the best female college soccer player in the USA.
Costa Rica announced on Friday that first-choice goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz would not be available for the trip to Vancouver. Diaz, 24, was attempting to recover from a torn an ACL in her right knee.
Canada revealed Saturday that Alyscha Mottershead will replace injured Diane Mathesen on the Olympic qualifying roster. Mathesen, who is still recovering from surgery in November, is one of Canada's most experienced players with 130 caps. Mottershead made her senior team debut in November against Sweden.
Lastly, the Dominican Republic announced its final 20-player roster on Monday. The team is led by Betzaida Ubri, who scored the game's only goal in the Dominicans' Vancouver-clinching 1-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago during Caribbean qualifying on July 9.
Host Panama, U.S. drawn for U-20 women
CONCACAF announced that host Panama will face defending champion United States, Guatemala and Cuba in Group B at its Under-20 Women's Championship, following the tournament draw held Sunday in Miami Beach.
Group A consists of 2010 runner-up Mexico, Canada, Haiti and Jamaica.
The tournament will take place from March 1-11 and will be played exclusively in Panama City's Estadio Rommel Fernandez, host to the 2011 Copa Centroamericana and numerous CONCACAF Champions League matches.
The finalists and winner of the third-place game qualify for the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup.
In Panama, Group A matches will be held March 1, 3 and 5, while Group B contests are scheduled for March 2, 4 and 6. The semifinals will be played March 9, with the third-place match and final to take place two days later.
Men's Olympic Qualifying Semifinal and Final Tickets On Sale
Series tickets for the elimination-round matches of the 2012 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying tournament remain on sale.
The semifinal matches determine the two entrants from CONCACAF to the 2012 Olympic Games in London and will be played Saturday, March 31, at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. The championship game takes place at the same venue on Monday, April 2.
Series tickets for the Nashville and Los Angeles venues are currently on sale. A series ticket consists of a ticket for each event scheduled at a single venue. Fans can order series tickets for all three venues online at ussoccer.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, at local Ticketmaster ticket centers in the venue cities, and at the respective stadium ticket offices during their local business hours.
Individual tickets for each event (all doubleheaders except for the final) go on sale at a later date, pending availability.
For a complete schedule of the 2012 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying tournament click here. U.S. U-23 to travel to Costa Rica for friendlies
In preparation for the 2012 Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament, the United States team will travel to to Costa Rica for two friendlies this week.
The team coached by Caleb Porter will play the Saprissa reserves on January 21 and Alajuelense on January 24.