Aside from winning the MLS Cup, continental participation is another main target for the league’s top teams.
An MLS team is yet to win the CONCACAF Champions League, but four teams have made the final and have come close to continental glory. Real Salt Lake, Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, and Los Angeles FC have all reached and lost the final.
LAFC is the most recent finalist; they reached the 2020 Champions League final but lost 2-1 to Tigres UANL.
Despite such defeats, MLS is slowly catching up to Liga MX, which has dominated the competition, and it’s only a matter of time before an MLS team wins the Champions League. But in order to earn a qualification, MLS teams have to prove their worth in the domestic league.
So here’s our betting preview on which MLS teams could qualify for the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League.
Each year, five MLS teams gain direct entry into the CONCACAF Champions League.
The MLS Cup champions, the Eastern and Western Conference regular-season champions, and the U.S. Open Cup champions all qualify for the competition.
The other berth is reserved for a Canadian team. Canada-based MLS teams such as Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and CF Montréal need to win the Canadian Championship if they want to gain entry into the CONCACAF Champions League.
The teams that are the favorites for the MLS Cup are still huge favorites in this betting category. So the likes of New England Revolution, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, and Atlanta United are the default favorites to qualify for the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League.
Canadian sides, such as Toronto FC, qualify via the Canadian Championship and thus have better chances of qualifying for the competition when compared to American teams.
New England Revolution – After dominating the 2021 MLS season, New England Revolution are the team to beat this season. They had a stunning season, in which they set a single-season points record, and will be looking to replicate such impressive feats this season.
Prior to qualifying for the 2022 Champions League, the Revs had featured in the competition just once. So achieving back-to-back Champions League qualification will be one of Bruce Arena’s main targets this season.
Toronto FC – Toronto FC has an easier path to the Champions League because of the club’s dominance in the Canadian Championship. The Reds are Canada’s most successful club and have consistently qualified for the Champions League. So despite a torrid 2021 season, their chances of qualifying for the competition are still high.
Toronto FC also has a good record in the competition; they reached the final in 2018 but lost to Guadalajara after a penalty shootout.
Atlanta United – Atlanta United may not be as dominant as they were in their formative years, but the Five Stripes are still huge favorites to qualify for the 2023 Champions League. They’ve taken part in the competition from 2019-2021 and have reached the quarter-final round in each participating season.
Seattle Sounders – Aside from being perpetual MLS Cup favorites, the Sounders are always the Western Conference favorites and can thus qualify via either of those two routes. The Sounders are one of the most consistent teams in the league and are always worth backing.
Sporting Kansas City – The Wizards were impressive last season. They dominated the Western Conference and gave the Sounders, who constantly dominate the conference, a run for their money. So backing them to have an equally impressive season isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.
Columbus Crew SC – Head coach Caleb Porter joined Columbus Crew in 2019, and the club have reaped great rewards since his arrival. He guided the Crew to their second MLS Cup in 2020, which gave the club Champions League qualification for the first time in over ten years.
Inter Miami – Inter Miami hasn’t really lived up to the billing, but the 2022 season could be the turning point for David Beckham’s Florida-based team.
A lot has been invested in Inter Miami, and it’s fair to say that the team has a cup-winning roster. The squad and managers should have settled into the league by now, so qualifying for the Champions League should be the least of the club’s ambitions.
Los Angeles Galaxy – During their Heyday, the Galaxy dominated the MLS and consistently qualified for the Champions League. In recent seasons, the club has been overshadowed by Los Angeles FC, their city rivals, and they haven’t featured in the Champions League since 2015.
Head Coach Greg Vanney—who coached Toronto FC from 2014-2020 and led them to the Champions League final—was appointed in 2021 and may just turn the Galaxy’s recent fortunes around.
New York City FC – New York City FC have featured in the Champions League just once, so their qualifying record isn’t really that impressive. However, they are constant Eastern Conference favorites and are always expected to compete for the Eastern Conference title as well as the MLS Cup.
|Season||MLS Teams That Qualified For The CONCACAF Champions League|
|2020||Atlanta United FC, Columbus Crew SC, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Toronto FC|
|2019||Atlanta United FC, Los Angeles FC, New York City FC, Seattle Sounders FC, Montreal Impact|
|2018||Atlanta United FC, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC|
|2017||Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC|
|2016||Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC|
|2015||FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers, Sporting Kansas City, Vancouver Whitecaps FC|
|2014||LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders FC, D.C. United, Real Salt Lake, Vancouver Whitecaps FC|
|2013||Sporting Kansas City, New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers, D.C. United, Montreal Impact|
|2012||San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles Galaxy, Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC|
|2011||Los Angeles Galaxy, Seattle Sounders FC, Real Salt Lake, Houston Dynamo, Toronto FC|
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