Changes to the CONCACAF Champions League will benefit Major League Soccer in a big way.
Long requested by MLS, the North American league will only have to send its clubs to the CCL for the final four rounds, which will be home-and-away affairs.
Previously, clubs competed in a group stage from August to October, then joined the knockout rounds in February.
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While MLS sides may still be just starting their seasons and have to contend with clubs who have been playing meaningful games, they will also be less likely to draw successful Liga MX sides in the Round of 16.
All of the details are here, but here’s a simplified takeaway:
— The 16 teams that qualify for the CCL, which will begin in February, will include four U.S. teams, one Canadian team, and four Mexican teams.
— The next six sides will be the Caribbean Club Championship winner and the champions of Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Panama.
— The remaining side will win its spot via a new tournament which includes 13 Central American teams and three from the Caribbean.
For those of us hoping to see an MLS side in the Club World Cup, the odds will become better come the 2018 CCL. As for this year, MLS will again have to deal with the split season.