Real Salt Lake has waited 15 long months to get back to the CONCACAF Champions League, but that night has finally arrived.
With the loss to Monterrey in the 2010-11 CCL final still stinging, RSL kicks off a new regional campaign Tuesday night with the opening of the new-look tournament against Herediano in Costa Rica (10 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel).
One of five MLS teams taking part in the 2012-13 CCL, RSL will be the first to experience the pressure of playing in the new format. With eight groups of three and only the group winners advancing after four group games — as opposed to the top two teams in each of four groups advancing after six games — the stakes are that much higher with every match.
After a two-month break following capturing the Costa Rican Torneo de Verano season title, Herediano, the former club of Columbus Crew striker Olman Vargas, just returned to play this past week, so RSL should have a bit of a fitness advantage to combat the home-field edge.
Two of the other MLS teams in the tournament, Toronto FC and Seattle, kick off their campaigns in the coming two days against Salvadoran side Aguila and Trinidadian side Caledonia, respectively, while Houston and Los Angeles each have another three weeks before commencing tournament play.
Here are the eight groups in this year's CCL:
2012-2013 CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Santos Laguna (MEX)
Toronto FC (CAN)
Real Salt Lake (USA)
Tauro FC (PAN)
Houston Dynamo (USA)
Seattle Sounders FC (USA)
Caledonia AIA (TNT)
LA Galaxy (USA)
Puerto Rico Islanders (PRC)
Tigres UANL (MEX)
Real Esteli (NIC)
Chivas de Guadalajara (MEX)
W Connection (TNT)
Excited for the return of the CONCACAF Champions League? Are you a fan of the new format? Which MLS team do you think will have the most success in the tournament? Is this the season that an MLS team wins it all, or will a Mexican club reign supreme again?
Share your thoughts below.