As I'm sure you're already aware, the Red Bulls punched their ticket to next year's CONCACAF Champions League by virtue of winning the Supporters' Shield.
And while the Red Bulls aren't in jeopardy of dropping out of the competition, conflicting reports about MLS's intentions with one of the three remaining slots could put D.C. United's berth in jeopardy (Editor's note: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA).
Currently, American MLS teams can earn their way into the Champions League by winning the Supporters' Shield, making it into the MLS Cup Final or winning the U.S. Open Cup. The league's three Canadian teams can only earn berths via the Canadian Championship.
That would mean historically bad D.C. United would be heading into continental competition.
But a report from Goal.com suggests that the Open Cup berth is going to be axed in favor of the regular season runner-up as soon as next year, meaning D.C. would get bumped for Sporting Kansas City, with things further complicated should Kansas City make the MLS Cup Final.
That's not the only account, though: A report from ProstAmerika says MLS has petitioned CONCACAF to dump the MLS Cup runner-up spot in favor of berths for the two regular season conference winners. That would put the Portland Timbers into the competition.
Both are interesting, if not troublesome, propositions.
If Goal.com is to be believed, while it would be hilarious to see D.C. bumped, it is more important to lend the Open Cup some importance. They've already taken steps in the right direction by dumping the problematic home field bidding process, expanding the field and increasing prize money. U.S. Soccer can do more to make the competition relevant, but that doesn't mean much if the winner isn't really treated like one. It's been noted before, with no promotion and relegation and increasingly strong second and third divisions, the Open Cup could take on a March Madness-like fervor if managed correctly. Snuffing out the Champions League berth can only hurt.
As for the ProstAmerika report, that's a more philosophical debate. Are you a Europhile who hates the playoffs? Or do you like the American twist on things?
The good news, I suppose, is that the Red Bulls' berth is safe.