Reaction: Inaugural Concacaf W Champions Cup group stage draw

A rivalry, great news for tourists, and a potential dark horse.

Reaction: Inaugural Concacaf W Champions Cup group stage draw
Alex Morgan toasts a Challenge Cup triumph, Rayadas celebrating their Clausura title, and Marilenis Oporta hoists the Costa Rican Primera Liga cup | Courtesy of clubs

I'd be lying if I said I was very well acquainted with the history of Concacaf continental club football.

The region's men's Champions League (now the Champions Cup) has often passed me by, beyond the odd early-round gander into watching some Haitian or El Salvadorian sides play MLS teams or catching the final.

I mostly stay abreast of things by reading Getting Concacafed.

Of course, that is also because, on the women's side, it hasn't existed. Until now!

READ MORE: Concacaf to launch women's continental club tourney

The incoming 2024-25 Concacaf season will feature an 11-club battle for bragging rights to say you have conquered North and Central America and the Caribbean. And, in turn, lift the W Champions Cup.

On Thursday night, king of Concacaf draws Carlos Fernandes, flanked by Adriana Monsalve, Kat Williamson, and Lixy Rodriguez, took to the pots from a cavernous studio in Miami to draw the inaugural group stage.

The Draw

Group A:

#1 Gotham FC (NWSL, USA) โ€“ 2023 Champion
#2 UANL Tigres (LigaMX, MEX) โ€“ 2023 Apertura Champion
#3 Club de Monterrey (LigaMX, MEX) โ€“ 2024 Clausura Champion
#4 Alajuelense (CR Liga, CRI) โ€“ 2023 Apertura Champion
#5 Frazsiers Whip (JWPL, JAM) โ€“ 22-23 Champion

Group B:

#1 San Diego Wave (NWSL, USA) โ€“ 2023 Regular Season Champion
#2 Portland Thorns (NWSL, USA) โ€“ 2023 Regular Season Runner Up
#3 Club America (LigaMX, MEX) โ€“ 2024 Clausura Runner Up
#4 Sana Fe FC (LFF, PAN) โ€“ 2023 Clausura Champion
#5 TBD*

*Alianza (PDEL, SLV) โ€“ 2023 Apertura Champion
OR *Vancouver Whitecaps (League1, CAN) โ€“ 2023 Inter-Provincial Champions

NOTE: If you want to know all the Group Stage match dates and format for the knockout rounds head to this article: Everything you need to know about the 2024-25 Concacaf W Champions Cup

Clasico Regio

Easily the biggest takeaway from the draw is that bitter rivals from the Mexican city of Monterrey, UANL Tigres and Club de Monterrey Rayadas, were drawn in the same group.

Although LigaMX Femenil is still a young league, something that has instantly carried over from the men's equivalent is the local derbies. None more so than the 'Clasico Regio'. These will likely be the most attended and most-watched matches of the tournament's opening rounds.

Although through the years Tigres have had more success, collecting six titles to Rayadas' three, their noisy neighbours will enter the WCCC as the reigning LigaMX Champions. Each would love nothing more than to eliminate the other.

The two clubs will also face off in the Campeon de Campeones trophy match prior to the start of the next LigaMX season. Including potential meetings in the 2024-25 Liguilla (playoffs), we could see Tigres and Rayadas face each other nine times over the next year. Hopefully, it doesn't fatigue.

The kids are alright

It's been a big week for Canada, who recently announced their first-ever women's professional league: the Northern Super League, which will begin play in April 2025.

With the WCCC getting underway in August 2024, the nation had to send a delegate to the tournament despite not having any professional league to draw from.

So, the Vancouver Whitecaps academy has got the nod after they were crowned League 1 Inter-Provincial champions in 2023. The club's presence does expose the lack of professional women's infrastructure in the region.

The Caps will be one of six professional teams in the inaugural NSL, but will not have put together their team yet, come the end of this Summer.

This is sort of hilarious. A bunch of 15 to 18-year-olds traveling to take on champions across the continent. But also, if I were one of those kids I'd love it. What a test. We could see some exciting upsets.

The Caps academy is also the real deal. It's a full-time, fully funded setup, which includes schooling, that is strictly focused on professional development in the game. There are many Canada national team players in waiting based there.

Check out my podcast interview with a former graduate of the Vancouver academy, Emma Regan, who is now on the Canadian national team and plays for Koge in Denmark.

Tourists rejoice, a Wave-Aguilas repeat

While we don't know the exact fixture list for the group stage, there's a very high chance that either San Diego Wave or Portland Thorns (or both) will go away to take on Club America at the Azteca in Mexico City in Group B.

For many NWSL fans or just world footy fans, this presents a mouth-watering opportunity to go see your faves in an iconic stadium and in one of the best cities in the world.

Truly in North America, it is hard to top swanning around Mexico City, soaking up the architecture, food, culture, plants, and football. Sadly neither San Diego nor Portland has a direct flight, but it's not too bad when it comes to total flight length (eight hours).

Annoyingly the Wave and America are drawn against each other in July's NWSL x LigaMX Summer Cup. So we will get a friendly version, in San Diego, of this matchup before the WCCC kicks off in the Autumn. None of this summer's matches between American and Mexican clubs are taking place south of the border.

Due to the altitude in Mexico City, Club America can be particularly difficult to beat at home. This will add some extra curiosity to the matches against the NWSL sides, and how the Americans travel.

Could Alajuelense be the dark horse?

The six NWSL and LigaMX sides will be heavily favoured to snap up the four spots in the semifinals. In what combination, though, remains pretty up for grabs.

It begs the question is there any chance at all of one of the clubs from Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama, El Salvador, or Canada making it out of the group?

It's very early but I would say it's pretty remote. However, LD Alajuelense, from Alajuela in Costa Rica, is probably the exception.

As a league, the Primera Division is more advanced and progressing faster than any of the other lower-ranked leagues. The Rojinegras are also serial winners, who have won the past five titles in a row. The culture has been consistent under head coach Wilmer "El Pato" Lopez, who has been at the club since 2017.

Alajuelense is practically guaranteed a trip to Monterrey and might have to jet off to New Jersey. Which, all things considered, aren't the worst travel times they could have had.

Their current roster has a handful of internationals, such as Natalia Mills and Kenia Rangel (Panama) as well as Mariela Campos and Sheika Scott (Costa Rica). That group will be used to playing NWSL and LigaMX players for their national teams.

17-year-old Scott will be the jewel in the crown. She was recently named on's list of top 25 wonderkids. The forward also won the Golden Boot at the 2023 U20 Concacaf Championships.

If Alajuelense is going to be the breakout team of the WCCC then Scott will need to be at her tidy and clinical best in the box.