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How Sounders qualified for 2022 Concacaf Champions League

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By finishing with the third best regular-season record, Sounders claim the spot normally reserved for U.S. Open Cup winners.

Soccer: 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League - Final-Los Angeles FC at Tigres UANL Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Few teams have embraced the challenge of competing in Concacaf Champions League quite to the degree of the Seattle Sounders. Thanks to the quirks of the 2021 soccer calendar, they’ll be competing in it again in 2022.

Despite falling short of their goal to finish atop the Western Conference, the Sounders still earned a berth into the 2022 CCL by virtue of finishing the regular season with the third-best record overall. In normal years, their spot would have gone to the winner of the U.S. Open Cup, but after that was canceled U.S. Soccer decided to award the spot based on the MLS regular season standings. The other teams who have already qualified are the New England Revolution (Supporters’ Shield) and Colorado Rapids (winner of other conference). The Sounders had the next-best record. The MLS Cup winner — or the fourth-place regular-season finisher (Sporting KC) if the winner is an already qualified team — will get the final spot awarded by U.S. Soccer.

This will be the Sounders’ seventh trip to CCL, the most of any MLS team during the current era. Toronto FC can equal that achievement if they beat the Montreal Impact in the Canadian Championship final.

The tournament will feature 16 teams set up in a bracket, with each round consisting of a home-and-home series. The schedule for next year’s tournament has not yet been announced. The 2021 schedule started in mid-April and didn’t conclude until Oct. 28, but that was due to Covid-19 restrictions. If the 2022 edition follows a schedule similar to the pre-Covid versions of the tournament, it would likely start in late February and conclude by the end of April.