SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake announced on Friday that the club will not participate in the 2014-2015 CONCACAF Champions League. The CONCACAF executive committee voted today to adopt U.S. Soccer’s and Major League Soccer’s proposal to alter the USA’s qualification rules and that the changes will be implemented in the 2014-2015 round of the tournament.
Last January, Major League Soccer proposed a change to the USA’s qualification rules that was officially submitted by the U.S. Soccer Federation for CONCACAF approval. MLS proposed that the berth given to the MLS Cup runner-up be given instead to the MLS team that has the best regular season finish in the conference opposite of the Supporters’ Shield winner. The league believes that this change would make finishing first in each conference more significant. If one team were to qualify with multiple berths or a Canadian MLS team were to qualify, the berth would then go to the U.S. MLS team with the next best regular season record.
Real Salt Lake would have qualified under the old rules as 2013 MLS Cup runner-ups but that berth will now be awarded to Portland Timbers who finished the regular season first in the Western Conference – opposite of Supporters’ Shield winners New York Red Bulls.
Portland Timbers will join MLS Cup winners Sporting Kansas City, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup winners D.C. United and New York as the four U.S. based MLS representatives in the 2014-2015 CONCACAF Champions League. The winner of the 2014 Canadian Championship – contested between MLS clubs Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Toronto FC and Montreal Impact and NASL side FC Edmonton – will also qualify for the 2014-2015 CONCACAF Champions League.
The winner of the CCL advances to the FIFA Club World Cup. Real Salt Lake reached the final of the 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League but ultimately lost to Mexican side Monterrey. RSL is the only MLS team to ever reach the CCL Final.