NEW YORK - Two-time runner-up Cruz Azul of Mexico will face Panama's San Francisco in the Preliminary Round of the 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League while the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Puerto Rico Islanders also will square off when the third edition of the tournament begins in July.
The draw conducted Wednesday by deputy general secretaries Ted Howard and Italo Zanzi at the confederation's New York headquarters set the Preliminary Round pairings and matchups for the Group Stage, including a potentially difficult quartet of Monterrey of Mexico, Costa Rica's Saprissa, the Seattle Sounders and Marathon of Honduras.
Seattle first would have to beat a yet-to-be determined Central American side in the Preliminary Round, while Marathon - a quarterfinalist this past season - will take on Tauro FC of Panama.
Two berths originally were allocated to El Salvador, but FIFA has suspended the country due to governmental interference in the federation's affairs. The government has until June 8 to comply with FIFA's non-intervention requirements or its teams will be barred from international competition, including the Champions League - and its berths will be reassigned.
CD FAS already has qualified with one of El Salvador's berths, and the second would go to either Aguila or Metapan.
Cruz Azul reached the finals in the first two years of the Champions League, losing to fellow Mexican sides Atlante in 2009 and Pachuca in May. This is the third consecutive season Cruz Azul has been forced into the Preliminary Round and is one of six teams to qualify each year since the Champions League was inaugurated.
Other Preliminary Round matches will have the Mexican Clausura runner-up -- either Santos or Toluca -- facing San Juan Jabloteh of Trinidad, Costa Rica's Brujas facing Joe Public of Trinidad, the Canadian champion - either Toronto FC or the Vancouver Whitecaps - against Motagua of Honduras, and Xelaju of Guatemala against a Central America club.
In the Group Stage, MLS champion Real Salt Lake will lead Group A with Arabe Unido of Panama, the Cruz Azul-San Francisco winner and the winner between the Canadian champion and Motagua.
Group B will consist of the Columbus Crew, Municipal of Guatemala, the winner between Jabloteh and Toluca/Santos, and either Brujas or Joe Public.
Monterrey heads Group C while the Mexican Clausura champ, either Santos or Toluca, will top Group D with Olimpia of Honduras, the Galaxy-Islanders winner and the Central America 11-Xelaju winner.
The tournament will begin July 27-29 with the first leg of the Preliminary Round and the second leg a week later. The winners will advance to the Group Stage, the first round is set for August 17-19.