The 2019 CONCACAF Champions League is waiting on one more qualifier to fill out its 16-team field. Either Portland Timbers or the New York Red Bulls will claim the last remaining vacancy in the draw, but the draw may happen before it is determined which of those two candidates has qualified.
CONCACAF has announced the draw for 2019 CCL will happen on December 3, at 7:00 pm, Eastern. The draw will be broadcast live from the Univision Deportes Studios.
Portland can only qualify for next year’s CCL by winning this year’s MLS Cup. To do that, it must first win the 2018 MLS Western Conference Final against Sporting Kansas City - a matter that will be settled by November 29. But if Portland is in the MLS Cup final, it won’t know if it has won the title and a CCL place until the match is played on December 8.
If Portland doesn’t make the MLS Cup final at all, RBNY will immediately claim the last remaining spot available to a US club, regardless of whether it wins MLS Cup or even makes the final. Technically, the final spot is for the 2018 MLS Cup winner, but two of the teams in contention - Sporting Kansas City and Atlanta United - have already qualified for 2019 CCL by other means. RBNY has the highest aggregate points record over the last two season of the remaining eligible MLS clubs, and therefore get the open spot as long as MLS Cup isn’t won by a team that hasn’t already qualified: i.e. Portland.
All of which is to say RBNY will have an interest in the 2019 CCL draw. If Portland has been knocked out of the MLS playoffs by December 3, RBNY will have qualified for CCL. And if the Timbers are heading to the MLS Cup final, RBNY will still be in the mix, standing by as the final CCL qualifier in the event Portland doesn’t win MLS Cup. (And, of course, RBNY will very much hope it is standing between Portland and MLS Cup anyway.)
The 15 teams already qualified are:
- UANL Tigres, Santos Laguna, Monterrey, and Toluca from Mexico.
- Atlanta United, Sporting Kansas City, and Houston Dynamo from the USA.
- Saprissa and Herediano from Costa Rica.
- Toronto FC from Canada.
- Alianza from El Salvador.
- Guastatoya from Guatemala.
- Marathon from Honduras.
- Independiente from Panama.
- Atletico Pantoja from Dominican Republic.
When it happens, the draw will seed the 16 teams into two groups of eight, keeping the four Mexican qualifiers, Toronto FC, and three of the four American clubs separated from each other for at least the first round of the competition.
The details of that seeding process can be explored at CONCACAF’s website.