If the speculations in the media over the past months are anything to go by, MLS side will not return to the CONCACAF Champions league until 2018.
According to Kurtis Larsin of the sun, the Canadian side is not expecting to feature in the continental show-piece despite qualifying as winners of the Canadian Championship. From reasons gathered, this is due to upcoming changes to the tournament’s format. “TFC qualified for the 2017-18 CCL by the way of winning last year’s Canadian Championship. But the incoming changes will see the 2017-18 edition of the tourney begin next February instead of this summer.
Furthermore, all five MLS qualifiers are expected to bypass the CCL group stage into a 16-team knockout tournament. The aim of the format is believed to fit each edition of the competition proper into a calendar year. Currently- much like UEFA Champion’s league- the group stage is played from August to September before the knockout stages begin in February, with the final taking place very early in the MLS season.”
There might also be some competitive motivation behind having the MLS clubs bypass the group stage – currently comprised of 24 teams- for a 16-team knockout competition. That would create an extra round of knockout ties between the strongest teams which reducing the numbers of dead-rubber ties in the group stage, where seven of the eight groups featured a club that did not win any of their four matches this season.
Clubs from the smaller Central American and Caribbean countries and Caribbean countries- would probably go through some qualification process late in the previous year, like the current group stage.
This reformation would likely create a problem , though it sounds good in the long run. It could potentially mean a one-off situation in which the clubs affected face qualifiers of some kind, making the Red’s participation in the competition a little more difficult than expected. Toronto FC can rather make things simpler for themselves by retaining this years Canadian Championship.