Can An MLS Team Play In The Champions League

Can An MLS Team Play In The UEFA Champions League?

Last updated on October 8th, 2021

Football is gaining popularity in America. One of the most popular football competitions in the world is the UEFA Champions League.

However, why aren’t there any MLS teams playing in this competition?

Can an MLS team play in the UEFA Champions League?

An MLS team is unable to play in the UEFA Champions League. UEFA is the European football association, which MLS teams are not a part of. Instead, MLS teams are under CONCACAF, and can only play in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Here is a further explanation of this topic:

MLS teams play in the CONCACAF Champions League

MLS teams consists of teams from the USA as well as Canada. As such, the MLS teams come from the North American continent.

CONCACAF stands for the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football. As such, they govern countries mainly from these 3 regions:

  1. North America
  2. Central America
  3. Caribbean

Interestingly, CONCACAF also governs 3 countries from South America:

  1. Guyana
  2. French Guiana
  3. Suriname

Some of the more established countries from CONCACAF include:

  1. USA
  2. Mexico
  3. Canada
  4. Costa Rica

4 slots available in the CONCACAF Champions League for MLS teams

The CONCACAF Champions League is the continental competition for these clubs.

They will come from the 3 regions that make up CONCACAF.

For MLS clubs, they are able to enter this competition via 4 different ways:

  1. Team with the highest points in the Eastern Conference
  2. Team with the highest points in the Western Conference
  3. MLS Cup Champions
  4. US Open Cup Champions

Interestingly enough, the 3 Canadian teams (Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto FC and CF Montreal) can’t enter the competition via this route.

They will have to play in the Canadian Championship against other Canadian teams.

However, only 1 slot is available in the CONCACAF Champions League for Canadian teams!

This is different from the Welsh teams that play in England. These teams are able to represent England in the UEFA competitions!

The UEFA Champions League is a European competition

UEFA is another one of FIFA’s 6 governing bodies of football. There are 55 footballing members that are part of this association.

Most of the come from Europe. However, some countries are not from Europe, including:

  1. Israel
  2. Azerbaijan
  3. Kazakhstan
  4. Turkey

Even though these countries are technically not in Europe, they are still rather close by.

As such, they still are able to take part in any European competitions that are being held. The UEFA Champions League is the most prestigious competition for the clubs in Europe.

However, only the Turkish clubs have made significant progress in these competitions!

The champions of each competition will meet in the Club World Cup

Even though the MLS teams are unable to play in the UEFA Champions League, they are still able to meet the winners of the Champions League.

This competition is known as the Club World Cup. It is a tournament where the winners from the 6 continental competitions play against each other:

  1. AFC Champions League
  2. CAF Champions League
  3. CONCACAF Champions League
  4. Copa Libertadores
  5. OFC Champions League
  6. UEFA Champions League

If an MLS team is able to win the CONCACAF Champions League, they may be able to face off with the UEFA Champions League winners!

Will MLS be able to join the UEFA Champions League?

It is very unlikely that an MLS team will play in the UEFA Champions League. The United States Soccer Federation is already a member of CONCACAF, and there is no reason for them to become a part of UEFA. Teams from MLS will only be able to participate in the CONCACAF Champions League.

The USSF was one of CONCACAF’s original members when they joined in 1961! It is very unlikely that they will switch allegiance to UEFA.

It may be a logistical nightmare

Moreover, USA is just too far away from Europe. Even if they became a part of UEFA, the travelling logistics can be pretty tough.

When MLS teams want to play matches in the UEFA Champions League, they will have to travel from North America all the way to Europe!

It is just too time consuming and taxing for the players if this were to really happen.

As such, it is very unlikely that an MLS team will ever play in the UEFA Champions League.

Is the MLS part of the Champions League?

MLS teams are able to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League, but not the UEFA Champions League. This is because the MLS is in North America, while the UEFA Champions League involves European teams.

Conclusion

MLS teams are under the jurisdiction of the CONCACAF football body, and not UEFA. As such, they are not able to play in the UEFA Champions League.

Instead, they will only play in the CONCACAF Champions League, which is the continental competition for North America.

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