Real Salt Lake's CONCACAF Champions League run seems like a long time off — but it's only two short months before August, when they'll get their start.
With the group draw coming up later today, we're breaking down what we know, including who our opponents could be — and who they won't be.
What's the group like?
A change instituted in 2012 mandates three-team groups, so it'll be Real Salt Lake and two others. Neither of those two others will be American or Mexican teams, but we could see a Canadian team. The first-placed team goes forward, the other two go home sad and empty-handed, just like Real Salt Lake did in 2012.
What are the group tiebreakers?
1. Points earned between the teams tied — so, head-to-head.
2. Head-to-head goal difference.
3. Head-to-head away goals.
4. Overall goal difference
5. Overall goals scored
6. Overall away goals scored
7. Drawing of lots. (Our favorite.)
Who could Real Salt Lake face?
Real Salt Lake was drawn into pot B by means of their qualification (whatever that may be), so we can easily eliminate some sides we won't face. RSL won't see Vancouver Whitecaps, Herediano, Motagua, or Isidro Metapan.
On the other hand, there are plenty of sides in pots A and C that aren't cut out by their national federation affiliation, and none of the paths look particularly easy.
Deportivo Saprissa (CRC), Olimpia (HON), Comunicaciones (GUA), Arabe Unido (PAN)
Municipal (GUA), Santa Tecla (SLV), San Francisco (PAN), Walter Ferreti (NCA), Verdes (BLZ), Central (TRI), W Connection (TRI), Montego Bay United (JAM)
What's a best-case scenario?
Well, for what it's worth, Real Salt Lake has beat two of the pot A teams — Saprissa, who they beat 3-2 on aggregate in the 2010-2011 semifinals, and Arabe Unido, who they beat 2-1 at home and 3-2 on the road in that year's group stage. That doesn't really make it a best-case scenario, but Arabe Unido is probably the weakest team of pot A.
Editor's note: This article previously said that RSL lost 1-0 on the road. They did not; in fact, they won 3-2. I apologize for this flub of the facts.
In Pot C, it's all a little up for grabs — there are teams from across the region that might prove trickier than we'd like if we're not focused. But seriously, that third pot is the weakest.
What's a worst-case scenario?
That's a harder question to answer. Saprissa, Alvaro Saborio's former home, would undoubtedly be a difficult opponent on the road and at home, but it's a team RSL has beat before, and there is the little matter of a focused Saborio with which they'd have to content. On the other hand, Olimpia are very good.
Any good storylines to watch for?
Aside from the Saprissa and Arabe Unido matchups, Comunicaciones is the former home of RSL newcomer Elias Vasquez, and that would be a fun match because of that.
Aside from that, every team has their interesting stories, and we're excited to dive into that.