The Seattle Sounders received the Concacaf Champions League on Wednesday night time, beating Pumas of Mexico, 3-0, to assert a 5-2 victory on mixture in the two-legged ultimate. The victory made Seattle the first workforce from Major League Soccer to raise the trophy in a technology, and gave the United States the continental title it has coveted for greater than 20 years.
It also needs to make Seattle the first M.L.S. workforce to play in the FIFA Club World Cup.
Except that nobody, not even FIFA, is certain when that occasion will happen, or what it’ll appear like. The event’s conventional December window is unavailable this yr due to the World Cup in Qatar, and grand plans for an expanded Club World Cup in China have gone nowhere after they had been introduced after which promptly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“No clue,” one FIFA official mentioned in a textual content message when requested when Seattle may count on to participate in the occasion.
The Club World Cup has been held yearly since 2005, with representatives of every of FIFA’s world confederations going through off to find out a world membership champion. Top European groups have dominated the occasion, with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Chelsea lifting the trophy in the final decade. Facing off towards groups like that in a world competitors has been a dream for a lot of M.L.S. gamers, executives and followers.
FIFA, which runs the Club World Cup, has been wanting to broaden the event, and it put a plan on the desk for a 24-team event shifted to the summer time and held each 4 years as an alternative of yearly. In a gathering in Shanghai in October 2019, it permitted the change and awarded China the internet hosting rights for the first version in 2021. The coronavirus quickly made that plan unworkable.
The pandemic-delayed 2021 Club World Cup that was held in February, and received by Chelsea, was nominally the ultimate one below the outdated, smaller format. Holding one other one in 2022 may very well be problematic, with league schedules already being squeezed by the enforced break brought on by the World Cup that opens in November. There has been discuss of holding the first expanded model in the summer time of 2023, however as of now there isn’t a official date for the occasion.
Under the unique plans for the expanded event, three groups from the Concacaf area — masking North and Central America and the Caribbean — would take part. One of them presumably may very well be the Sounders after Wednesday’s victory, though the official qualifying standards has not been introduced.
It can be potential that the outdated, smaller format can be retained for a number of extra years: Not even Sounders officers had been positive in the afterglow of Wednesday night time’s win.
“We don’t have the format yet; we don’t have the location,” Garth Lagerwey, the workforce’s common supervisor, instructed reporters. “We’re told, probably February-ish. Probably Middle East maybe.”
Despite the uncertainty, Lagerway, a longtime M.L.S. government, did little to cover his pleasure at the achievement. “We’re going to play Real Madrid or Liverpool, man,” he mentioned. “In a real game.”
Officially, FIFA would solely say Thursday that “further details about the FIFA Club World Cup 2022 will be announced in due course.”
An American workforce has practically performed in the Club World Cup as soon as earlier than. The very first Club World Cup, in 2000, was an eight-team occasion in Brazil. That yr was the final one in which an American workforce, the Los Angeles Galaxy, received the continental championship. So for the 2001 world occasion, expanded to 12 groups, the Galaxy was duly entered alongside Real Madrid and different groups from round the world.
But monetary considerations and the collapse of a sponsor led the occasion to be scrapped. It was revived in 2005 in its present format. Too late for the Galaxy. Mexican and Costa Rican groups — to the immense frustration of M.L.S. — have received the title yearly since.
Now that the Sounders have damaged that streak, they and M.L.S. will hope the Club World Cup — at any time when it’s held, and no matter it seems like — goes extra easily.
Tariq Panja contributed reporting.