The Columbus Crew has its next opponent on its journey in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Black & Gold will face Mexican powerhouse CF Monterrey in the quarterfinals with the first leg in Columbus between April 27-29 and the second leg in Guadalupe between May 4-6. The specific dates have yet to be announced for the Champions League quarterfinals with five Major League Soccer teams and three Liga MX teams making up the last eight.
Columbus took care of Real Esteli with a 5-0 aggregate victory closing it out at historic Crew Stadium on Thursday night with a 1-0 win against Real Esteli. Forward Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the winner in the 86th minute for his first Black & Gold goal. Monterrey handled its business as well with a 3-1 win at home against Atletico Pantoja to win 6-1 on aggregate.
The Crew will have a full week off after its MLS opener on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union. The team will then stay home for nearly two full weeks as Columbus will host the first leg against Monterrey and then travel to Florida for its May 1 match against CF Montreal. A few days after the Montreal game, the Crew will travel to Mexico for the second leg and then go back home for a weekend clash with D.C. United.
Monterrey is amongst the biggest clubs in Mexico’s Liga MX and will be a very tough opponent for the Black & Gold. Rayados (The Striped-Ones) are a four-time winner of the Champions League, with its most recent title coming in 2019. Monterrey’ss first three crowns were when they won three consecutive Champions Leagues from 2011 to 2013. Monterrey also is third in the historical table for the FIFA Club World Cup, sitting behind only Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Currently, Monterrey sits in third place in the Liga MX standings behind Cruz Azul and Club America as they search for the club’s sixth league crown. Rayados is managed by former Mexican international manager Javier Aguirre and the roster is headlined by two prolific strikers in Vincent Janssen and all-time leading goalscorer Rogelio Funes Mori.
This will be the fourth Liga MX team the Crew plays in the Champions League. In six matches against three Mexican teams, Columbus has just one win at home in 2010 against Santos Laguna in the group stage. The Black & Gold’s other matches include two losses to Cruz Azul, a draw and a loss to Toluca in the 2009-10 quarterfinals and a loss to Santos Laguna.
The competition is now a battle between Liga MX and MLS teams heading into the quarterfinals with three matchups pitting a team from each league and one quarterfinal is an all-American battle. The Supporters’ Shield winners, the Union, will face Atlanta United in the all-MLS match with the winner of that tie facing Club America or the Portland Timbers. The winner of the Crew-Monterrey quarterfinal will meet either Liga MX’s first-place team Cruz Azul or Toronto FC.
The Champions League resumes on April 27.
Cruz Azul vs. Toronto FC (First leg: Florida, Second leg: Mexico City)
Monterrey vs. Columbus Crew (First leg: Columbus, Second leg: Guadalupe)
Philadelphia Union vs. Atlanta United (First leg: Atlanta, Second leg: Chester)
Club America vs. Portland Timbers (First leg: Portland, Second leg: Mexico City)