Major League Soccer

CCL roundup: NYCFC dominant, CF Montreal suffer late setback & NE Revs get a bye

Chris Smith
Castellanos was once again NYCFC's talisman.
Castellanos was once again NYCFC's talisman. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Concacaf Champions League returned on Tuesday as the long hunt for MLS success in the tournament goes on.

Liga MX have dominated CCL since the LA Galaxy last won the trophy (then named the Champions' Cup) in 2000, taking home all but two titles.

But MLS is a growing force with final appearances becoming more and more frequent - it's surely only a matter of time until the tide turns.

Reigning MLS Cup champions New York City FC and Canadian Championship winners CF Montreal were in action on Tuesday in the round-of-16 first leg. Here's how they got on:

Santos de Guapiles 0-2 NYCFC

Having kept most of their championship-winning team together so far - James Sands being the most high-profile departure - NYCFC represent MLS' best chance of winning CCL this season. On Tuesday, they showed why with an impressively comfortable 2-0 win away at Costa Rican side Santos de Guapiles.

Predictably, 2021 MLS Golden Boot winner Taty Castellanos was the inspiration with two goals in the opening 30 minutes - one from the spot and another a powerful finish into the top corner - either side of Maxi Moralez rattling the crossbar doing the damage.

NYCFC were resolute defensively and denied their hosts a single shot on target. Maxime Chanot was particularly impressive, making nine recoveries, three interceptions, and two clearances. The only mark was a very harsh red card to Santiago Rodriguez in the 68th minute, but even that couldn't derail the Cityzens.

“We had full control of the game,” head coach Ronny Deila said after the match (via

“You can see that they didn’t create anything, even though we got [down to] 10 men. We were really solid and disciplined and compact. So that was very pleasing, and also the big chances we created as well. We had many chances, we should have scored even more. But when we get through their front players, we created chances over and over again and that's a good thing.”

The return leg of this fixture will be played on Wednesday at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles with NYCFC facing the LA Galaxy just days later in their MLS opener.

Santos Laguna 1-0 CF Montreal

CF Montreal had the bigger task of the two MLS teams on Tuesday, traveling away to Liga MX side and two-time CCL runner-up Santos Laguna. Guerreros may be bottom in the early Clausura, but no Mexican team can be underestimated in this competition.

On the whole Montreal did a wonderful job limiting the hosts, with Santos Laguna only generating two big chances and often resorting to wild efforts from distance. CFM even thought they'd taken a sixth-minute lead but Romell Quioto's goal was ruled out as VAR pulled up a foul way, way back in the build-up.

As is often the case in Liga MX vs MLS matches, the sheer weight of pressure finally told and in the 88th minute, Santos Laguna struck with substitute Jesus Ocejo turning home a scrappy goal at the near post.

Still, Montreal can be proud of their performance and will know they remain well in the contest overall. They'll now prepare for the return leg at the Montreal Olympic Stadium on Tuesday.

New England Revolution receive a free pass into the quarter-finals

The Revs are into the quarter-finals without playing a game.
The Revs are into the quarter-finals without playing a game. / Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Another MLS team with high hopes in this competition are the 2021 Supporters' Shield winners, New England Revolution. Bruce Arena is an immensely experienced and successful coach, while an attacking line-up including Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa, Carles Gil and, now, Jozy Altidore is as strong as any in the region.

In the end, the Revs made it through to the quarter-final without playing a game, with Haitian side AS Cavaly having to withdraw due to visa issues. Both legs of the tie were due to be played at Gilette Stadium due to the 'safety and security' situation in Haiti, but after initially postponing the first leg, Concacaf confirmed on Tuesday that the entire contest had been abandoned.

“AS Cavaly (HAI) has notified Concacaf that the club has been unable to obtain the necessary visas required to travel to the United States for their upcoming SCCL matches against the New England Revolution (USA), and that they have made the decision to formally withdraw from the competition," said a Concacaf statement.

Going through as automatic 3-0 winners, the Revs now await either UNAM Pumas or Deportivo Saprissa in the next round.