Plenty will be on the line when the MLS is Back Tournament kicks off next month, and among the prizes for the winner is a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.
And in a new twist, that berth will be awarded to the winning club no matter whether the champion is a U.S.- or Canada-based club.
The U.S. Soccer Federation and Canada Soccer have both approved the one-time change in qualifying method, as has Concacaf. The tournament winner's berth will replace the spot that was usually awarded to the MLS regular season points leader in the conference opposite the MLS Supporters' Shield winner's.
CCL berths for U.S.-based clubs
In addition to the MLS is Back Tournament berth, U.S.-based MLS clubs have three other pathways to qualify for the 2021 Champions League, mirroring recent qualifying formats:
- 2020 MLS Cup champion
- 2020 MLS Supporters' Shield winner
- 2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion
CCL berths for Canada-based clubs
Meanwhile, Canada could see two MLS representatives in the Champions League. In addition to the automatic berth that goes to the winner of the 2020 Canadian Championship, a Canadian club winning the MLS is Back Tournament will also clinch a spot in the Champions League.
Should the same Canadian MLS club win both the MLS is Back Tournament and the Canadian Championship, then Canada Soccer will determine the qualification criteria for the second club.