Atlanta United clinched a spot in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League with its victory Sunday. The Five Stripes earned the spot with the highest combined points total during the 2017 and 2018 MLS seasons.
The draw for the international competition will be in December and play in the 16-team tournament will begin in February.
“We’re delighted to have qualified for the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League and it speaks volumes about our club that we finished with the highest two-year points total in MLS in our first two of years of existence,” Atlanta United President Darren Eales said in a statement issued by the team after a 2-1 win over Chicago Fire. “When we launched this club two years ago, we set high expectations to win championships, compete on a global stage and to extend our brand into international markets. We’re pleased with the progress that has been made and we’re looking forward to competing in this prestigious international tournament next spring.”
Next year’s Champions League will feature 16 teams from CONCACAF regions, comprised of nine teams from the North American Zone (four teams from Mexico, four from the United States, one from Canada), five teams from the Central American Zone (one berth each from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama) and one team from the Caribbean Zone (winner of the Caribbean Club Championship). The final spot goes to the winner of the CONCACAF League, a regional tournament between the Central American and Caribbean Football Unions.
Atlanta United join Sporting KC (2017 U.S. Open Cup winner), and Houston Dynamo (2018 U.S. Open Cup winner) as representatives from the United States. The final U.S. spot will go to the 2018 MLS Cup Champion. Toronto FC, runners-up in this past year’s Champions League, qualified as winners of the 2018 Canadian Championship.
Now 14 of the 16 participants have been determined. The teams will play in a knockout-style tournament, with each match-up consisting of a two-legged series based on aggregate scoring. The winner of the tournament qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup.