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Sounders FC in the 2009 Champions League?

As far-fetched as it sounds, MLS and cup officials may have to ponder this exact question. The CONCAFAF Champions league gives two spots to teams from the US and Canada. One spot goes to the winner of the MLS Supporter's Shield, the other to the winner of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. If a USL team were to win the Open Cup, they too would be given a spot in the competition.

Since the first season of MLS in 1996, only one non-MLS team has won the US Open Cup. In 1999, the then A-League Rochester Raging Rhinos defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-0. Since then, no non-MLS team has even returned to the finals.

In 2007, the Seattle Sounders defeated the lowly and insignificant Portland Timbers before upsetting Chivas USA (3:1) and the Colorado Rapids (5:0) to reach the semi-finals. The team was finally outclassed by FC Dallas, 2:1.

Could the Sounder's take the next step in 2008 and somehow make it to the Open Cup final? If the European Championships taught us anything, it is that football can be a marvelous place for miracles. Turkey was only a few ugly German's away from unbelievably making it to the finals on a slew of dumb luck and flabbergasting, bamboozling, tear-producing, heart-pounding, gut-punching, last minute comebacks.

So, say the Sounders accomplish the nearly impossible and win themselves a spot in the Champions League. What will league officials do with the Sounder's berth once the team dissolves? If a team wins both the Supporter's Shield and the Open Cup, the spot normally goes to the Open Cup's runner up. This is one possibility.

The other option, and my personal preference, is that the Seattle Sounders FC take the Sounders spot in the Champions League. It would be great to generate fan interest, but would a first year team embarrass itself against the relatively high level of competition?

Your thoughts?

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