The Timbers defeated Orlando City SC in the MLS is Back Tournament Final on August 11 to become the first team to secure its ticket to next year's edition of the Champions League. That berth awarded to the winner of the MLS is Back Tournament replaced the spot that was awarded in years past to the MLS regular season points leader in the conference opposite the MLS Supporters' Shield winner's.
Here's how the other four available berths will be awarded across the USA and Canada:
CCL berth for Canada-based clubs
The chance at the sole 2021 Champions League berth for Canada's three MLS clubs will come via the 2020 Canadian Championship.
Toronto FC, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact have been playing each other three times for a total of six games to open the first phase of the regular season restart. In addition to counting towards the MLS regular season standings, the Canadian team that earns the most points against the other two Canadian clubs during those matches will qualify for the 2020 Canadian Championship final.
The Canadian Championship final will be a single-match, winner-take-all title match against the winner of the eight-team Canadian Premier League Island Games, with the Canadian Championship winner qualifying automatically for the 2021 edition of the Concacaf Champions League.
The updated standings follow below. Toronto will be heading to the Canadian Championship final unless Montreal can beat the Vancouver Whitecaps again and overtake Toronto with a better goal differential. If the Impact equal Toronto's +4 differential, the next tiebreaker will be goals scored, followed by away goal differential.
|Updated Sept. 13 at 11:30 pm ET (tiebreakers)|
Remaining matches (1): Vancouver-Montreal (Sept. 16)
CCL berths for U.S.-based clubs
Three other 2021 Champions League berths will be up for grabs for U.S.-based MLS clubs, mirroring recent qualifying formats:
- 2020 MLS Cup champion
- 2020 MLS Supporters' Shield winner
- U.S. Open Cup berth replacement
Should the Timbers also win MLS Cup, the MLS Cup runner-up would clinch the Champions League berth.
A third CCL spot is usually awarded to the winner of the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup, however, it was announced that the 2020 USOC has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Soccer has confirmed that the 2021 Concacaf Champions League berth that would normally be assigned to the winner of the Open Cup tournament will be determined in the near future.
2020 Champions League
As far as the 2020 competition, which was suspended back in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Concacaf recently announced that there is the possibility of "centralizing the remaining [matches] in one city."
The current 2020 bracket still includes four MLS clubs: Atlanta United, LAFC, Montreal Impact and NYCFC.
The competition was halted at the quarterfinal stage with 11 matches remaining to be played: both legs of the LAFC-Cruz Azul quarterfinal series, the second and decisive leg of the other three quarterfinals, as well as the semifinals and final which were also set to be played over two legs.