CCL set to play out at Orlando in December bubble

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Orlando’s Exploria Stadium will host the remaining games in the CONCACAF Champions League, with the quarterfinals through to the final to take place between Dec. 15 and 22.

The competition was suspended midway through the quarterfinal stage back in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rescheduled quarterfinals will take place over Dec. 15 and 16, with Honduras’ Olimpia 2-1 up against the Montreal Impact, Club America over Atlanta United FC 3-0, and Tigres UANL holding a 1-0 advantage over New York City FC from the first legs, all of which were played back in March. LAFC against Cruz Azul’s first leg was postponed, meaning the winner will be decided over one game.

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Club America or Atlanta United will face LAFC or Cruz Azul in the first semifinal, with Tigres or NYCFC against Olimpia or the Impact in the other. Both games will take place on Dec. 19, with the final on Dec. 22. They will also be one-leg knockouts rather than the usual two legs.

All matches, planned for the home stadium of Major League Soccer’s Orlando City SC, are to be played behind closed doors and with strict protocol.

“CONCACAF has developed extensive new regulations to ensure the delivery of a safe and highly controlled environment for all the players, coaches, team staff and officials who will participate,” read the statement from the confederation. “These include a high-frequency COVID-19 testing regime before and during the competition and robust health and safety protocols which will be strictly applied.”

Atlanta United failed to make the MLS postseason, giving the Five Stripes an extended amount of dead-time before the Champions League resumes in mid-December.

There will be no extra-time at the quarterfinal or semifinal stage, with games instead going straight to penalties, although there will be extra-time for the final, should the teams be level after 90 minutes.

Monterrey is the current CONCACAF Champions League holder, with Mexican teams having won the last 14 editions of the region’s club tournament.