Salomon Rondon is writing himself into CONCACAF history.

11 players we can’t believe are playing in the CONCACAF Champions Cup

Europe’s eyes may be firmly fixed on London, Madrid, and Paris, but over on the other side of the Atlantic, the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinals are in full swing. And it’s getting tasty.

Columbus Crew were the first American team to reach the semifinals after beating the 2020 champs Tigres on penalties. Inter Miami or, to give them their full name, Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami, could join them if they manage to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit in Monterrey, setting up an all-American semifinal and guaranteeing US representation in the final.

Only three American sides have ever won the CONCACAF equivalent of the Champions League: Seattle Sounders in 2022, LA Galaxy in 2000, and DC United in 1998. We’ve been waist-deep in CONCACAF all day and came across some familiar names we simply cannot believe are balling out in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean’s big stage.

Joel Campbell

This man has literally not crossed our mind for around eight years, but what a player. He’s currently plying his trade for Costa Rican outfit Alajuelense.

He and Keylor Navas dragged Costa Rica to the World Cup quarterfinals in 2014, only missing out on the semis due to a penalty shootout defeat to the Netherlands. Following that miraculous tournament, Campbell managed 40 appearances for Arsenal before the absolute loanathon that is his football career.

Some boy.

Sergio Canales

Canales is basically half man, half La Liga at this point, with 384 appearances to his name in Spain’s top flight. Not anymore, though, with him now doing the business for Monterrey.

Since moving to Mexico in 2023, the Spaniard has scored ten goals in 26 games, despite not being a striker. The fella is grabbing CONCACAF by the cojones.

The Confederations Cup trophy
QUIZ: Can you name every team to reach the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup?

Salomon Rondon

Newcastle United’s 2019 Player of the Year was Rafa Benitez’s favourite. A proper target man. Perfect for a team just trying desperately to stay in the Premier League for another season.

The big Venezuelan joined Pachuca in the last dying hours of 2023 and has since scored 13 goals in 16 games. Crazy numbers. He’s top of the CONCACAF Champions Cup scoring table right now.Obviously.

Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez aka Chicharito is the poacher’s poacher. A Mexican Gary Lineker. The Guadalajara Pippo Inzaghi is back in his hometown, returning at the beginning of 2024 after leaving for Manchester United all the way back in 2010. That is a story we can get behind.

Did you know Chicharito got his nickname (Little Pea in English) not because his head looks like a little pea, but because his father was known as Chicharo (Pea, as you correctly assumed) as he had green eyes.

Now you know.

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Mauricio Isla

One of the ultimate ‘that name rings a bell’ footballers of the 21st Century, Isla was plucked from Chile aged 19 by Udinese, and spent five good years with Le Zebrette before Juventus swooped in.

You might remember him from his Premier League season at QPR, at the end of which he and the Hoops were relegated in last place despite Charlie Austin scoring 18 league goals.

Isla now bangs them in for the iconic Argentine side Independiente.

Hector Herrera

We don’t consider it a proper World Cup until we’ve seen Hector Herrera box-to-boxing the sh*t out of a group stage match for Mexico.

The Porto legend is now won’t be winning the Champions Cup this year, as his Houston Dynamo team fell to Columbus Crew in the Round of 16. Maybe next time.

DeAndre Yedlin

The rapid right-back is one of 68 players to play for both Newcastle and Sunderland, and you can bet your arse we’ll be doing a quiz on that at some point, so store DeAndre’s name in your mind palace.

Yedlin left Inter Miami, where he was (unbelievably) giving pep talks to Messi, Suarez, Busquets, Alba et al because he likes FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium and wants to raise his kids in Ohio. Listen, fair enough.

This guy has scored in the Champions League for Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea and AC Milan.
QUIZ: Can you name every American to score in the Champions League?

Matt Miazga

Chelsea fans might remember this fella. One-and-a-half appearances at centre-back due to injuries to John Terry and Gary Cahill, hooked at half-time of his second game, loan, loan, loan, loan, loan.

The American technically only left The Blues in 2022, and has been an ever-present for FC Cincinnati ever since. Miazga brings experience from England, The Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Spain, and will be hoping to get an understanding going with the aforementioned Yedlin.

Luis Muriel: Orlando City SC

For a couple of seasons, Muriel was unstoppable for Atalanta. The Colombian is sort of a home brand Ronaldo Nazario, and we mean that as a compliment. Home brand Ronaldo is better than premium Ali Dia.

Having said that, Muriel hasn’t scored for Orlando City yet, since signing at the beginning of 2024. F*ck it, we’re backing him.

Sam Surridge

Sam bloody Surridge. Unless you’re a Nottingham Forest (or Nashville) fan, there’s a solid chance you’d half-forgotten about the striker from Slough.

You’d be forgiven. Surridge scored a grand total of one Premier League goal in a combined 26 appearances for Forest and Bournemouth. In fact, the most goals he’s managed in a season, so far, is eight. Not prolific, then, but the big fella is still only 25, and hopefully Nashville can be the place where he find himself as a footballer.

Although, we’d be no good there. Barbecue food and country music every night. Trying to get p*ssed on those weird light (or lite?) beers they have over there. Would or probably just hang our football boots up and buy a pair of cowboy boots.

Roman Burki: St Louis City

The longtime Borussia Dortmund stopper is now keeping goal for St. Louis City, AKA the home of ice cream cones, Josephine Baker, T.S. Eliot, and Chuck Berry.

Bet you weren’t expecting to learn where ice cream cones first became a thing when you started reading this article, were you? Straight-up slapping you with completely useless cone knowledge right at the end of an article about the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Never let your guard down.