With a win over the Chicago Fire on Sunday afternoon, Atlanta United officially clinched a berth into their first international competition by qualifying for the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (CCL). The club secured their spot by posting the highest combined points total from the 2017 & 2018 MLS seasons and will officially make their CCL debut in February of 2019.
But what exactly is the CCL? Who is eligible? How do you qualify? Everything you need to know about the international tournament below:
The Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League is the sport’s premier professional tournament in North America held annually featuring the most elite clubs from leagues across North America, Central America and the Carribean. Next year’s will be the 11th edition of the competition under its current name, and the 54th overall edition of the premier club competition organized by Concacaf. The 2019 tournament will feature 16 teams competing in a knockout format with the opening matchups determined by a draw in December. Each round of the knockout will feature two legs, meaning each team will play one home match and one away match with the aggregate winner advancing to the next round. The opening round of the competition will begin in February of 2019.
The field of 16 will be comprised of nine teams from the North American Zone (four teams from Mexico, four from the United States, one from Canada), five teams from the Central American Zone (one berth each from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama) and one team from the Caribbean Zone (winner of the Caribbean Club Championship). The final spot goes to the winner of the Concacaf League, a regional tournament between the Central American and Caribbean Football Unions.
2019 Qualified Clubs
With Atlanta United’s qualification on Sunday, 14 of the 16 spots are now occupied for the 2019 CCL. ATL UTD joins Sporting KC (2017 U.S. Open Cup Winners), and Houston Dynamo (2018 U.S. Open Cup winners) as representatives from the United States with the final U.S. spot going to the 2018 MLS Cup Champion. MLS side Toronto FC, runners-up in this past year’s Champions League, will return to the competition as representatives from Canada– qualifying as winners of the 2018 Canadian Championship.
The other qualified clubs include: Tigres UANL (Mexico), Santos Laguna (Mexico), Monterrey (Mexico), Toluca (Mexico), Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica), Alianza FC (El Salvador), Guastatoya FC (Guatemala), CD Marathon (Honduras), Independiente FC (Panama), Atletico Pantoja (Dominican Republic).
Two spots remain to be filled which will be determined by the 2018 MLS Cup Champion (United States) and the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF League Champion (Central America/Carribean).
The Concacaf Champions League has been dominated by Mexican clubs since its current format was adopted in 2008. During that time, only three MLS teams have been able to reach the final – including most recently Toronto FC who fell just short to Tigres in the 2018 final.
In the history of the competition (known as Champions’ Cup from 1962-2008), only two U.S. teams have been crowned champions. Atlanta United will look to become the first U.S. and MLS side to win the competition since 2000 (LA Galaxy).
Teams with the most tournament titles: América – 7 (Mexico), Cruz Azul – 6 (Mexico), Pachuca – 5 (Mexico)
For more information on the Concacaf Champions League, click here.
Stay tuned to Atlanta United’s social media channels (@ATLUTD) as well as ATLUTD.com for more updates to come on the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League draw in December.