There is still one American spot in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League up for grabs, and though it likely will not be decided until MLS Cup, the events of #DecisionDay could play an important role in determining the league’s fifth representative in next year’s tournament.
To back it up just a little bit, here’s how teams qualify for North America’s most prestigious club tournament in the first place: The United States get four berths and Canada gets one. Three of the US spots and Canada’s spot have already been allotted.
FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls are in the best-placed teams in each conference, Sporting Kansas City have taken the spot belonging to the 2015 US Open Cup winners, and the Vancouver Whitecaps will represent their country again after winning the 2015 Canadian Championship.
That leaves one berth up for grabs, which will be allocated by US Soccer to the MLS Cup winner. But that spot comes with a few caveats. If one of the already-qualified teams wins MLS Cup, that spot will go to the best-placed team in the Supporters’ Shield table. It is also important to note that Canadian teams cannot qualify via this mechanism, since they qualify through Canadian channels. That rules out Toronto and Montreal from qualifying as either MLS Cup winners or the best-placed non-qualified team.
The current qualifying format was adopted at the end of the 2013 season and was approved by CONCACAF after a request from MLS and US Soccer.
So if one of the six teams that are either Canadian or already qualified should win MLS Cup, the final American spot in the 2016-17 tournament will go to one of five clubs: D.C. United (51 points), LA Galaxy (51 points), Columbus Crew SC (50 points), Portland Timbers (50 points) or Seattle Sounders (48 points).
The normal tiebreakers will be used, meaning that D.C. United have the inside track to that next-best spot thanks to the total wins tiebreaker. A stumble from Ben Olsen’s men at Crew SC on Sunday (5 pm ET, MLS LIVE), though, would leave things wide open for some added #DecisionDay intrigue.
|2016-17 CCL berths|
|2015 MLS Cup champions||?|
|2015 Eastern Conference regular-season winners||New York Red Bulls|
|2015 Western Conference regular-season winners||FC Dallas|
|2015 US Open Cup champions||Sporting Kansas City|
|2015 Canadian Championship champions||Vancouver Whitecaps|