The Columbus Crew took home the 2020 MLS Cup title in December with a 3-0 win against the defending champions, the Seattle Sounders, at MAPFRE Stadium. This win didn’t just secure the team’s second ever MLS Cup, but also booked the Crew a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League, the North American, Central American and the Caribbean professional club soccer competition.
While originally thought to be starting in February, there was no word from CONCACAF on dates for this year’s Champions League after last season’s competition was postponed before finally being finished in December. On Friday, however, details about the 2021 event were released.
Once again, the CONCACAF Champions League will be a 16-team knockout competition featuring the best professional club teams from the region. Each round of the competition other than the final will consist of a two-leg series, home and away, with the winner determined by aggregate goals with an away goals tiebreaker.
The draw for the first round of the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 10. The tournament will officially begin in April, with the first legs of the Round of 16 games taking place between Tuesday, April 6, and Thursday, April 8. The second legs will occur a week later from Tuesday, April 13, and Thursday, April 15.
There will be a week off before the first legs of the quarterfinal games begin on Tuesday, April 27, and go through Thursday, April 29. The second legs of the quarterfinals will then take place from Tuesday, May 4 through Thursday, May 6.
CONCACAF Champions League games will not take place during June or July and the competition will resume in early August. Semifinal dates are set to begin on Tuesday, Aug. 10, and run through Thursday, Aug. 12. The second leg of the semifinals is scheduled for two weeks later, running from Tuesday, Aug. 24 through Thursday, Aug. 26.
The final of the CONCACAF Champions League will once again be just one game and will take place either Tuesday, Oct. 26, Wednesday, Oct. 27 or Thursday, Oct. 28.
2021 CONCACAF Champions League schedule
|Round of 16 - Leg 1||April 6-8|
|Round of 16 - Leg 2||April 13-15|
|Quarterfinals - Leg 1||April 27-29|
|Quarterfinals - Leg 2||May 4-6|
|Semifinals - Leg 1||Aug. 10-12|
|Semifinals - Leg 2||Aug. 24-26|
The winner of the CONCACAF Champions League receives a bid to play in the FIFA Club World Cup. No Major League Soccer team has won the CONCACAF Champions League since its restructuring in 2008. D.C. United (1998) and the LA Galaxy (2000) took home the trophy in the previous version of the competition, the Champions Cup. Real Salt Lake (2011), Toronto FC (2018) and LAFC (2020) each made to but lost in the final of the Champions League.
The Crew has played in the CONCACAF Champions League twice in the team’s history, in 2009-10 and 2010-11, making it to the quarterfinals each season.
Three other MLS sides — Atlanta United, the Philadelphia Union and the Portland Timbers will take part in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League. Toronto FC will face Forge FC for the Canadian berth.