Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Why Seattle's Open Cup win is good for RSL...

Last night, Seattle beat Chicago in the Open Cup Final, 2-0. With this win, Seattle claimed their 3rd straight Open Cup, and qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League, beginning summer 2012. The Open Cup is one of 5 ways for an MLS team to qualify for the Champions League. The following are all the possible ways to qualify:
  1. MLS Supporters' Shield winner
  2. US Open Cup winner
  3. MLS Cup winner
  4. MLS Cup runner-up
  5. For Canadian teams: The winner of the Canadian Championship (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver)

In the past, RSL has qualified for Champions League by winning the 2009 MLS Cup. This year, it seems that the Galaxy will win the Supporters' Shield, and Seattle has now claimed the Open Cup spot. Should one of the league's teams qualify in more than one spot (say the Galaxy, or Seattle, reach the MLS Cup or even win it, they would occupy more than one spot), there is a determining factor for selecting another team that will take that spot. By the rules, it says, "Should the same team qualify multiple times and/or should a Canadian team occupy one or more of the MLS qualifying places, then the American MLS team(s) with the best regular season records not otherwise qualified will be entered.".

Looking ahead at the playoffs, and barring any major collapses, LA will likely be the #1 seed from the West, and then Seattle will be the #2, with RSL coming in at #3. LA will play against the lowest seed that comes from the wild card games, and will be favored to go through to at least the Conference Final. Let's just say there is a very high probability of LA getting to at least that point. In the other matchup of the Western Conference, Seattle and RSL will sure be a great battle, but the winner will then face LA for a chance to get to the MLS Cup. Should RSL win both of those potential matchups, and reach the MLS Cup, they will qualify for the Champions League. However, if they drop either matchup, Seattle or LA, then they will not directly qualify. But, with Seattle and LA already qualified, the MLS Cup final qualifying spot (either the winner or runner up) would then fall to the "American MLS team with the best regular season record not otherwise qualified." In this case, that would be RSL, as we have not only the third best record in the Western Conference, but the third best record overall.

That is why it is important that we finish out these last few games on a high note. Regardless of if we cannot catch LA for the Supporters' Shield, or even Seattle for the #2 seed, our current position is important to qualifying for the Champions League.

And that is why, for one night only, I wanted the Sounders to win a game. And they did. The rest is in our own hands.