Colorado Rapids - group shot, walking in front of tifo unfurling
Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports

Colorado clinch spot in 2017 CONCACAF Champions League, joining Dallas, TFC

No matter how the Supporters’ Shield race shakes out, both FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids will be playing in the 2017-18 CONCACAF Champions League.

FC Dallas, who need at least a tie on Wednesday at Guatemalan club Suchitepequez to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2016-17 competition, sealed their berth in September by winning the US Open Cup.

Despite losing at Portland, Colorado clinched their spot on Sunday. They secured a berth thanks to D.C. United’s 3-1 win against New York City FC, a result that guaranteed that the Rapids will qualify in the Supporters’ Shield slot regardless of what happens on Decision Day.

Even if Colorado fall at home against Houston on Sunday, lose out on the Shield to Dallas and get passed by a victorious New York Red Bulls side to finish in third in the league, the Rapids would still qualify for the CCL. Dallas would enter the competition as Open Cup champs, the Red Bulls would go in as Eastern Conference winners and the Rapids would earn a berth in FCD’s Supporters’ Shield slot as the next best American team in the overall table that hasn’t already qualified for the competition. 

If they’d won at D.C. on Sunday, both NYCFC and the Red Bulls could’ve passed the Rapids on Decision Day, meaning Colorado would’ve needed at least a point against the Dynamo to secure a CCL spot.

The Red Bulls have all but officially clinched the Eastern Conference championship and the CCL berth that goes along with it, holding a three-point lead on NYCFC heading into the final game of the regular season. In order to pass the Red Bulls in the East, NYCFC would have to win on Sunday, have the Red Bulls lose and make up 13 goals on their city rivals in goal differential – a very unlikely outcome.

Toronto FC have also already qualified for the 2017-18 CCL by virtue of winning the 2016 Canadian Championship in June.

The US is awarded four CCL berths each season, with the MLS Cup winners, Open Cup champions, Supporters’ Shield winners, winners of the conference opposite the Shield winner. Canada is awarded one berth, which goes to the Canadian Championship winner; Canadian teams may only qualify through that tournament.