I’ll be the first to admit that, for those last few seconds, I could barely breathe.
Having been plucked fourth from Pot 1, New York City FC — making their first-ever appearance in the competition — drew position A6 in the Concacaf Champions League bracket. They now knew their place in competition and had to await the random selection of their opponent from Pot 2.
First up was FC Motagua, 2019 CONCACAF League runners-up. They were drawn to play Atlanta United in A1. Then it was Portmore United FC, the huge Jamaican underdogs. Surely they would be a favorable matchup for NYCFC. Nope, they got Mexican club Cruz Azul in B3.
The third team selected from Pot 2 would be Honduras’ CD Olimpia, who got into CCL by points in the CONCACAF League. Once again, wouldn’t be an awful matchup for the Boys in Blue. But they instead were drawn against the Seattle Sounders.
Then it was Deportivo Saprissa, who got the Montreal Impact. Then Comunicaciones who drew Club America. Then Alianza who drew UANL...
Only two teams left — Mexican giants Leon or San Carlos. That’s a 50% chance of drawing a club that is among the favorites to win the whole damn thing.
The next club out of the pot: San Carlos, making their CCL debut. Their position? B6! New York City have their opponent for the Round of 16, and can breathe a sigh of relief. Or can they?
As mentioned before, San Carlos — like NYCFC — are making their Concacaf Champions League debut this upcoming year. But they are no slouches by any means.
Established in 1965, San Carlos won their first-ever Primera Division championship in 2019, defeating giants Saprissa by way of away goals in a 1-1 aggregate scoreline. Any team that has the juice to defeat the Purple Monster in Costa Rica cannot be slept on, and I fully suspect the Northern Bulls to give NYCFC a huge fight.
The first leg of the Round of 16 matchup will be played on the road against San Carlos. The second leg will be hosted by NYCFC in (hopefully) New York. The dates and times of these matches are still to be announced, but will likely be sometime in February.
Be ready, folks. This is gonna be a tough one.