AUSTIN (KXAN) — While undoubtedly disappointed with how the Major League Soccer season ended in Los Angeles on Sunday, Austin FC has another big accomplishment to celebrate — its first CONCACAF Champions League berth.
By virtue of its finish in the MLS regular season, Austin FC is one of 16 teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean to qualify for the knockout-style tournament to be held in 2023.
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Five teams from MLS qualified for the tournament — Austin, LAFC, Philadelphia Union, Orlando City SC and Vancouver Whitecaps. Vancouver will occupy the slot reserved for the 2022 Canadian Championship winners and Orlando City SC won the 2022 U.S. Open Cup to qualify. LAFC won the Supporters’ Shield for the best MLS regular season and Philadelphia won the Eastern Conference championship to make the field. Austin filled the fourth spot allocated to US teams by being the highest-ranked team in MLS who hadn’t qualified another way.
“Qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League has been a goal for Austin FC since we started competing two years ago,” said Claudio Reyna, Austin FC’s sporting director. “We look forward to matching up alongside the best teams from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.”
Austin FC was placed into Pot A and will find out its Round of 16 opponent when those are drawn Nov. 7. Teams in Pot A are as follows:
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC
- Atlas FC
- CF Pachuca
- Club Leon
- Orlando City SC
- Philadelphia Union
Teams in Pot B are:
- LD Alajuelense
- Alianza FC
- Violette AC
- CD Olimpia
- Motagua FC
- RCD España
- Tigres UANL
- Tauro FC
Each phase of the tournament is a two-match aggregate format. Teams play both home and away and the winner is decided on the combined scores of both matches.
The tournament begins in March 2023 and runs concurrently with the MLS season. The winner of the Champions League will represent the region in the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup. Both the US and Mexico are allocated four spots, Honduras has three teams while Haiti, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama are each sending a team.