2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League group stage announced

The Houston Dynamo will participate in Group 1 of the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions League, it was announced Monday night at the tournament’s official draw in Miami. The Dynamo will face Árabe Unido of Panama and W Connection of Trinidad and Tobago in the group stage, set to begin in August.

The Dynamo qualified for the regional tournament by advancing to the 2012 MLS Cup final. Árabe Unido qualified as the 2012 Apertura Champion of the Panamanian Football League. W Connection enters the tournament by virtue of winning Group 1 in the Carribean Football Union (CFU) Club Champions’ Cup.

“We are honored to be back in the CONCACAF Champions League this year,” said Houston Dynamo President of Business Operations Chris Canetti. “It is an important tournament for us. We look forward to representing MLS and the challenge of competing for the group title.”

This is the sixth appearance for the Dynamo in the regional championship, including semifinal runs in the 2007 and 2008 Champions Cup tournaments. Houston reached the quarterfinals of the 2012-2013 CONCACAF Champions League before falling to Santos Laguna of Mexico, 3-1 on aggregate.

Árabe Unido, from Colón, Panama, has participated in CONCACAF’s regional tournament four times prior. Their best finish came during the 2009-10 tournament, in which they reached the quarterfinals of the competition. That year, Árabe faced the Dynamo in the group stages, with the teams drawing the first match in Panama 1-1 and the Dynamo winning the return leg 5-1. Los árabes have won 12 first division domestic league titles, second most in Panama.

W Connection are from Marabella, Trinidad and Tobago. This is their fifth time appearing in the regional championship. The only time they have advanced came in 2009 against the New York Red Bulls in a preliminary round match-up. The Savonetta Boys have won four domestic league titles, as well as three domestic cups and three CFU Club Championships.

The group stage of the tournament will begin in August. Each team will face each other twice in a home-and-home series with only the first place team in each group advancing to the quarterfinal round, which will take place in spring 2014.

Group stage matches against Árabe Unido and W Connection are included in Dynamo full season ticket packages. Individual match tickets along with the exact dates and times of all matches will be announced in the coming weeks.

The CONCACAF Champions League is a 24-team tournament featuring the best club teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean. Founded in 1962 as the Champions Cup, it was reformatted in 2008 under its new name. The 2013-14 edition follows the same format as last tournament, with 24 teams divided into eight groups of three.