Bob Bradley’s club are not only looking to end Major League Soccer’s title drought in the competition, but they’re also looking to become the league’s first side to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup.
That competition, which takes place from Feb. 1-11 in Qatar, pits the champions from six regions joining the host in a single-knockout tournament.
FIFA had hoped to expand the field to 24 teams after this edition of the tournamnet, but will again have seven teams for the 2021 Club World Cup scheduled for December, the governing body announced earlier this month.
“Following the postponement of the revamped FIFA Club World Cup, initially planned to take place in 2021 in the slot previously reserved for the FIFA Confederations Cup, the Council decided that a Club World Cup, in the current format with seven teams, be organized for late 2021 and the hosting rights for this competition be awarded to Japan,” FIFA said in a statement.
Liverpool are the reigning champions, beating Brazil’s Flamengo in the final. Monterrey, which won last year’s CCL, finished third.
The field for this year’s FIFA World Cup is almost set, with five teams having already booked their spot.
The likely favorite will be Bayern Munich, the UEFA Champions League winners who made their first appearance in 2013. They are joined by hosts Al-Duhail, the winners of the 2019-20 Qatar Stars League, Oceania nominee Auckland City, making a 10th appearance, CAF Champions League winners Al Ahly who return for a sixth appearance and Ulsan Hyundai, who are back for the first time in eight years after winning the 2020 AFC Champions League.
LAFC or Tigres UANL will be making an inaugural appearance with the other open slot going to the Copa Libertadores winner. That final is set for Jan. 30 at the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro with Brazil’s Santos and Palmeiras as well as River Plate, Boca Juniors and Racing still alive.
Bayern Munich and the Copa Libertadores winner enter the Club World Cup in the semifinal stage, scheduled for Feb. 7-8. LAFC or Tigres UANL join Al Ahly and Ulsan Hyundai in the quarterfinals to be played Feb. 4, while Al-Duhail and Auckland City meet as the lone first-round match on Feb. 1.
The fifth-place match will be played Feb. 7, while the third-place match and final will take place Feb. 11.
Venues for the competition are yet to be announced.