For the past few years, the qualification for US based teams to get into the CONCACAF Champions League has involved one of three things. Either you win the US Open Cup, the Supporters' Shield, or make it to the MLS Cup final. Now it looks like that will be changing. Two separate articles today are stating that changes are coming, although both articles say that different spots are being dropped.
First came an article from Prost Amerika, a blog that mainly focuses on soccer in the Cascadian part of the country. They were reporting that Portland had already qualified for the tournament. Their report said that the spot for the MLS Cup runner up would be going away, and the four qualification spots would be the Supporters' Shield winner, the top finisher in the other conference, the US Open Cup winner, and the MLS Cup winner. That would mean that KC would either need to win MLS Cup, or Portland would, which would drop one of Portland's two spots to Kansas City as the next best team in the regular season standings.
Then came this article from Goal.com. They're reporting as well that changes are coming to the way the US based spots in the CONCACAF Champions League, but they're reporting that a different competition is losing the spot and a different spot is gaining the spot. The changes according to Goal.com is that it's not the MLS Cup runner up that is losing their spot, but the US Open Cup champion that loses the spot. And it's not the top finisher in the other conference that gets the spot, it's the second overall in the table. The changes according to Goal.com though will not come until the 2015-2016 version of the tournament. If those changes took affect this year, then Sporting KC would have qualified for next year's competition as they finished second to New York in the Supporters' Shield standings.
If the Goal.com article is correct, then it's a big blow to the Open Cup, the nations longest running soccer competition. It's already fighting for respect and prestige in the US, this would almost be a death blow to the competition, at least from the aspect of MLS teams competing. Without the CCL spot how serious are MLS teams going to take it, unless the prize money is increased greatly.