Portland Timbers ARE in the 2014 CONCACAF Champions League

Posted in Portland

Published on December 12, 2013 with 18 Comments

DC United Won the US Open CupPhoto: Tina Arana

DC United Won the US Open Cup

 

As first reported below in November, Portland will play in next year’s CCL.

Beginning with the 2014-2015 edition, the four U.S. berths will be awarded to: (1) the MLS Cup champion, (2) MLS Supporters’ Shield winner, (3) the MLS club with the best regular season record in the conference opposite the Supporters’ Shield winner, and (4) the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion. The qualification method for the third berth listed above replaces the slot previously awarded to the MLS Cup runner-up.

In light of the CONCACAF decision, the clubs representing the U.S. in the 2014-2015 Champions League will be:

  • Sporting Kansas City – MLS Cup 2013 champion
  • New York Red Bulls – MLS Supporters’ Shield winner in the 2013 regular season
  • Portland Timbers – MLS club with best regular season record in the conference opposite the MLS Supporters’ Shield winner
  • D.C. United – Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup 2013 champion

Should there be any duplication in the above U.S. berths, or if a Canadian club captures any of the above, the U.S.-based MLS team with the next best regular season point total, irrespective of conference, will claim the duplicated slot said today’s press release.

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Their criticism may have been unfair to US Open Cup Winners DC United. but following their triumph over Real Salt Lake, many MLS fans were worried that a weak side would be representing the United States in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League (CCL). Ben Olsen’s side had finished bottom of the league with just 16 points from 34 games.

Currently the United States’ four berths fall to the Open Cup Winners, Supporters Shield Winners, the MLS Cup Winners and the MLS Cup losing finalists. The winners of the Voyageurs Cup in Canada also qualify, regardless of MLS success. Joining DC United thus far will be Supporters Shield winners, New York Red Bulls.

Under proposals believed to have been sent to CONCACAF by MLS, a change will be made and the MLS Cup losing finalists will not qualify for the 2014/15 CCL. The place instead will fall to the highest placed side in the regular season from the conference which did not claim the Supporters Shield. New York Red Bulls won the Supporters Shield and therefore take the available Eastern Conference berth.

Portland Timbers finished top of the Western Conference and would therefore qualify for the Group Stages which would begin in August 2014.

"You're going home in a Timbers charter plane". Could Costa Rican Rodney Wallace be playing for Portland in his home country next year?

“You’re going home in a Timbers charter plane”. Could Costa Rican Rodney Wallace be playing for Portland in his home country next year?

MLS are said to have sent the proposal to CONCACAF and are awaiting approval. The change, if approved, would have to be announced very soon.

After the second legs of the Conference Finals on November 24, the two sides to have qualified for MLS Cup will both believe themselves to have secured a place in MLS Cup.

At that point, it would be politically awkward to announce only the winners of the final would qualify. That could be especially awkward if Real Salt Lake play Sporting Kansas City or Houston. Should Portland be in the final, then presumably the other finalist would qualify.

One club who may have some objection is Sporting Kansas who finished second to New York in the regular season two points ahead of Portland.

If the overall aim is to improve the quality of the sides entering the CONCACAF Champions League, it could be argued that the side finishing second in the MLS Table, regardless of conference, would be more deserving.

However, the proposal is to allow Conference Champions the honour, pending CONCACAF approval.

The change has been mooted before by fans, seeking creative ways to enhance MLS’s success rate in the Mexican dominated competition. No MLS side has won it since the competition was restructured and the prize is very lucrative, a place in the World Club Cup.

Three MLS Clubs, LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas secured places in the quarter finals of  this year’s tournament which kicks off in March. Galaxy play Tijuana, Sporting face Cruz Azul and San Jose play Toluca. The other tie sees Alajuelense play Arabe Unido in the only tie not involving Mexican or American sides. These ties start on March 11 2014.

We are trying to reach MLS and CONCACAF for comment and US Soccer said the matter was not within their jurisdiction.

Also See:

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Extra Large Gallery of Fans and Action from Cascadia’s Biggest Night

Sounders Down and Out, Timbers Up and Away





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18 Comments

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  1. The CSA has the winner of the Voyageurs Cup in 2014 qualify for the 2014-2015 CCL. Montreal has not qualified for the next CCL.

    Why would MLS send proposals to CONCACAF? It’s the USSF that assigns how the CONCACAF spots are allocated. CONCACAF decides on how many spots are allocated and the format of the tournament once teams have already qualified. Doesn’t the influence goes FIFA -> CONCACAF -> USSF -> MLS and any other domestic leagues?

    Aside, this is another effect of moving to an unbalanced schedule. The best team over the season becomes debatable. Also qualifying has already started for 2014-2015, so this years results shouldn’t feed into any new format. Leave it as it is.

    • Thank you Clayton but I spoke to USSF who said it was nothing to do with them, and outside their jurisdiction. See the last line of the piece

      • Wait, what? That strikes me as really odd, I would expect it to USSF making the decision. Since it is, presumably, MLS making the decisions about who goes to CCL, I wonder if that does mean that a lower division team winning the USOC would not be allowed into CCL? (I’ve heard rumors to that effect before)

        • To my knowledge, only the Rochester Rhinos have won the open cup since the Concacaf Champions Cup (as it used to be called) but they didn’t hold the tournament that following year. It’s a really good question, as a supporter of a lower division team it would be nice to dream that your squad could have a cinderella run and play against the best teams in the confederation.

          • Something tells me that even if the USSF/MLS wanted to do such a thing, CONCACAF would not allow it. They would not allow us to create caveats to improve our representation on a conditional basis. Either we tie our spot to the USOC or we do not. Halfway spots would not pass muster with CONCACAF bc we would then be gaming the system.

      • Thanks for updating your article to answer the questions.

        So…if MLS fans are the only US soccer fans….and if the USSF isn’t involved….Why doesn’t MLS determine how the Canadian spot is allocated too?

        What the author is implying is that the teams that qualify are representing only the league and not their country of origin.

        • Clayton,

          You are of course free to read into the article anything you like. But I think you may be trying to hard to read something into it, that isn’t in the actual words.

  2. Seems weird to make this decision in the middle of the season. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just leave it as is then make any proposed changes before the start of next season? Obviously, the change wouldn’t effect next season’s tournament, but the following season.

    And, even though I’m a Timbers fan, it seems logical to award the spot to the team with the next highest spot in the overall table, not based on conferences.

    • With MLS having an unbalanced schedule and weighting it toward intra-conference play, it would make more sense to give a CCL berth to the top team in each conference at the end of the regular season.

      I does seem odd that USSF has no part in selecting CCL participants. I does seem odd that they would change how the participants are selected after the qualifying process is almost through… But, the 2014-15 edition of CCL doesn’t begin until next July, so maybe they don’t see it that way.

  3. “If the overall aim is to improve the quality of the sides entering the CONCACAF Champions League, it could be argued that the side finishing second in the MLS Table, regardless of conference, would be more deserving.”

    …not sure I’d agree with that argument if that second place team racked up points by playing more matches in a weaker conference. East had 3 teams finishing with 41 point or less. West only had one.

    • Actually a very good point. I hadn’t thought of that.

    • Eastern Conference Champion, and Western Conference Champion, is more in line with a league of Champions vs an MLS cup- runner up who could be as low as 10th in total points for the season.. !!!

      • So could the conference champions. Look at 2011, LA Galaxy won SS, while SKC the eastern conference champions was 16 points behind. 3 other teams were higher from the west. The current way makes way more sense, or 2nd in the Supporters Shied race.

    • Exactly as outlined, when you have a weak conference, stronger teams like NYRB can beat up on weak teams like TFC and DC United and have inflated Supporters Shield standings. With the unbalanced schedule who’s the best team? It becomes debatable because the competition is less fair (equal opportunity). Given the US’s geography though it should be a gradual transition to a number of divisions or leagues that playoff for a championship given MLS will just keep expanding. The thing is money will get in the way and LA will have to play NY. The other US sports’ competitions without balanced schedules aren’t fair either.

  4. I thought eventually this would happen. The two conference winners play a longer season to decide who is the champion. The MLS cup is a post season knockout tournament with one of the top teams already knocked out…. This will be good for the future especially with MLS expansion on the horizon… Hopefully they will expand the field to 32….

  5. I look forward to seeing MLS USOC sides almost entirely composed of academy players.

  6. Goal.com claims it’s the USOC winner who would be out of CONCACAF. Any clarification on that? http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/66/united-states/2013/11/09/4396798/us-open-cup-could-lose-concacaf-champions-league-berth

    • No. It could well be but common sense tells me that if MLS tried that, US Soccer may well decide to get involved despite what their spokesman told me.

      MLS would be a little daft to make US Soccer an enemy of this proposal so needlessly.

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