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Atlanta United to face Honduras’ FC Motagua in Concacaf Champions League

The Five Stripes and Motagua will meet in late February.

Mar 13, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) kicks the ball against Monterrey during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)
Mar 13, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) kicks the ball against Monterrey during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Atlanta United will open its second Concacaf Champions League campaign against FC Motagua of Honduras’ Liga Salva Vida. The matchup was determined at the official tournament draw in Mexico City Monday night.

The first leg of Atlanta and Motagua’s round-of-16 tie will fall between Feb. 18 and Feb. 20, with a second leg set between Feb. 25 and Feb. 27. The Five Stripes will travel to Tegucigalpa, Honduras — a 1,300-mile journey — before hosting Leg 2.

Monday’s draw determined the order of home and away legs in the round of 16 and quarterfinals. Schedules for the semifinals and final will be set by prior results in the tournament.

Motagua, which qualified for the 2020 Champions League through the 2019 Concacaf League, has won 17 Honduran first-division titles. The club is making its fifth appearance in this tournament. It has never advanced past the round of 16. 

Atlanta faced a rough road in its Champions League debut last season. With a new manager in Frank de Boer and a new No. 10 in Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez, the Five Stripes struggled to a 3-1 defeat at CS Herediano in Costa Rica. Atlanta managed to advance out of the round of 16 thanks to a 4-0 second-leg victory at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga., but another difficult away trip doomed de Boer’s team in the quarterfinals. 

Atlanta stayed within striking distance for much of the first leg at Monterrey before conceding two late goals in a 3-0 loss. The Five Stripes showed fight in winning the second leg 1-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium but ultimately bowed out on a 3-1 aggregate scoreline to the eventual champion. (This result looked even more impressive after Los Rayados vaporized Sporting Kansas City 10-2 in the semifinals.)

Should the Five Stripes advance past Motagua in February, they will meet the winner of a tie between Mexican giant Club América and Comunicaciones FC of Guatemala in the quarterfinals. Atlanta defeated América 3-2 in the 2019 Campeones Cup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. A quarterfinal against Las Águilas would include a first leg away at the iconic Estadio Azteca. The winner of that quarterfinal tie would face one of Club Léon (Mexico), Los Angeles FC (USA), Portmore United (Jamaica) or Cruz Azul (Mexico) in the semifinals.

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