Champions League getting a new format

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan #1 saves the ball during the first half of the first leg match between Atlanta United FC and Club America in the quarterfinal round of the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday March 11, 2020. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)
Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan #1 saves the ball during the first half of the first leg match between Atlanta United FC and Club America in the quarterfinal round of the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday March 11, 2020. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

The CONCACAF Champions League will have a new format starting in 2023.

The new format will start with four groups of five clubs, in three sets, one each from North America and Central America, with two groups of five from the Caribbean, in the fall of 2023.

In the set that includes clubs from North America and Mexico, each team in each group plays four games. The first- and second-place teams from the group will advance to a 16-team knockout stage. Those eight teams will be joined by three more clubs from North America that will qualify by a play-in round after the group stage.

A total of 20 clubs from Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama will qualify into the Champions League through performance in domestic leagues and a new Central American cup competition.

The 20 clubs will be drawn into four groups of five.

Each club will play four group-stage matches, two at home and two away. Following group-stage play, the four winners and second-place finishers will qualify for a play-in, the four winners of which will qualify for the knockout stage.

The 16-team knockout stage will be played in the spring of 2024, with the championship game played later in the year.

Ten clubs from the Caribbean will qualify for the group stage. Eight will qualify through professional leagues in the Caribbean region and two through a new Caribbean Cup. The 10 clubs will be drawn into two groups of five. Each club will play four matches, two at home and two away. The group winners will qualify for a play-in match, the winner of which will qualify for the Champions League knockout stage.

Atlanta United is scheduled to compete in its third Champions League in a few weeks. The draw for the tournament is scheduled for Feb. 10. Atlanta United was eliminated in the quarterfinals of its previous two Champions Leagues.

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