Setting rational expectations for Orlando City in Concacaf Champions League

May 4, 2022; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC players, including midfielder Nicol  s Lodeiro
May 4, 2022; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC players, including midfielder Nicol s Lodeiro / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City will make its Concacaf Champions League debut in March. It will almost certainly bow out in the first round.

I hate to be a downer and kill the vibe a month before a ball is even kicked in continental competition, but CCL is a brutal competition. Orlando got no favors from the draw which pitted it against Tigres --- arguably the single most talented club on the continent for a decade.

It's important to set rational expectations for Orlando City heading into the tournament. There will be time for more in-depth coverage in the lead up to the first round matchup with Tigres, but it's vital to set expectations early.

Orlando City will not win the Concacaf Champions League this year. No matter how good the roster is, no matter how good the club could look in preseason, the Lions will not win CCL.

Only one MLS team has ever one the tournament and that was last year. It took an extremely convenient path from the Seattle Sounders to win it all, facing just one Mexican club --- a Pumas team who are a whole tier below clubs like Tigres.

For as much as MLS is closing the gap with Liga MX, the gap is still there especially with the massive clubs like Tigres and Club America. Not only is there a talent gap, there's an experience gap that'll make this an uphill climb for Orlando.

It's hard to play in CCL. The midweek schedule and travel down to Mexico is a grind. Felipe Martins is the only player on Orlando's roster who's played in CCL. Some other players have continental experience in Europe or South America, but the unique circumstances of CCL make it a unique grind.

Going down to Central America on a Wednesday in the second game of the season is an insane challenge that MLS teams have grappled with for a decade. No matter how much talent is on an MLS roster, that challenge is immense.

So Orlando won't win CCL --- and it might even get smacked in the first round by Tigres --- but its still an exciting opportunity for a club on the rise.