What You Need To Know | Union in Concacaf Champions Cup


For the third time in club history Philadelphia Union are back competing for continental bragging rights in the Concacaf Champions Cup.

Philadelphia Union earned their spot in the tournament after defeating CF Monterrey in the Third Place Match in the 2023 Leagues Cup. The Boys in Blue currently own the advantage coming into Leg Two via a 3-2 victory at Deportivo Saprissa last week. Julian Carranza had a breakout start to 2024, netting a second-half hat trick to propel the Union into the driver's seat at the official halfway mark of the series. Those three road goals a crucial as they serve as the first tiebreaker should Saprissa earn a 1-0 win to tie the aggregate score at 3-3.

You won't want to miss the Union's attempt at securing their spot into the Round of 16 with limited tickets for the second leg available by clicking here.

Here's everything you need to know before the Union take to the pitch Tuesday night to begin their journey for North America's bragging rights.

What is Concacaf Champions Cup?

The Concacaf Champions Cup is the tournament that determines the best club in North America. This competition combines clubs from all over North America, Central America and the Caribbean into one event. Beginning in February and ending June 2nd, this tournament will be played in addition to league campaigns, meaning the Union once again will be navigating two competitions at once.

As you know, Major League Soccer combines teams from the U.S. and Canada. Leagues Cup features MLS and Liga MX teams from Mexico. All three nations will field sides in Concacaf Champions Cup as well as teams in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama and more.

The Concacaf Champions Cup format

Because this is a revision of previous tournament, there’s also a new qualifying system.

Concacaf Champions Cup is composed of five rounds: Round One, Round of 16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals and the Final. The first four stages of the competition have home and away legs – so Philly is guaranteed a home match at Subaru Park in every round until the Final. As for the Final, that will be a single-elimination championship.

Twenty-seven teams will participate in Concacaf Champions Cup and 22 of them play in Round One. While the Union are just about to kick off their participation in the event, three Round One series have already been played with Club America defeating Real Esteli, Chivas defeating Forge FC and Herediano pulling off a stunning upset of Liga MX's Toluca via the away goals tiebreaker.

How clubs qualified for the Concacaf Champions Cup

Three teams qualified via the Leagues Cup: the winner (Inter Miami CF), runner-up (Nashville SC) and your Philadelphia Union via third-place finish.

Five MLS teams qualified for the Concacaf Champions Cup: the MLS Cup champion (Columbus), the Supporters’ Shield winner (FC Cincinnati), the opposite conference winner (St. Louis) and the two next best clubs (Orlando City SC) and (New England Revolution).

Six Liga MX sides qualified: the best performing Apertura or Clausura Champion (Pachuca), the other Apertura or Clausura Champion (Tigres), the Clausura runner-up (Chivas Guadalajara), the Apertura runner-up (Toluca) and the two next-best clubs (Club América) and (CF Monterrey).

Two Canadian Premier League clubs also qualified: the postseason champion (Forge FC) and the regular season champion (Calvary FC).

Two more North American teams qualified: the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion (Houston) and the Canadian Championship champions (Vancouver Whitecaps).

Teams hailing from Central America will compete after their performances in the Concacaf Central American Cup. These clubs competed in a round robin tournament, then through knockout stage play. In total six teams from the Central American Cup qualified for Concacaf Champions Cup: the champion (Alajuelense), the runner up (Real Esteli), the two losing semifinalists (Herediano and Independiente) and two play-in winners (Saprissa and Comunicaciones).

Teams competing in the Concacaf Champions Cup also qualified through the Concacaf Caribbean Cup. Similar to the Concacaf Central American Cup, teams were divided into groups, then advanced through knockout stages. Three teams from this region then qualified for the continent’s main tournament: the Caribbean Cup winner (Robinhood), the runner-up (Cavalier) and the third-place side (Moca FC).

What’s at stake

Sure, there’s a continental trophy to win in Concacaf Champions Cup, but winning the tournament would secure Philadelphia Union a spot in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup.

The 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup winner will secure the fourth and final spot to represent the continent in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup. The Champions League winners from 2021 (CF Monterrey), 2022 (Seattle Sounders FC) and 2023 (Club Leon) will also participate in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup.

Union's Concacaf Champions Cup history

This is the Union’s third trip to North America's biggest club tournament with their first participation coming in 2021. In their inaugural campaign, the Union cruised to the semifinals after defeating Deportiva Saprissa in the Round of 16, 5-0 on aggregate and Atlanta United in the quarterfinals 4-1 on aggregate, before finally falling to Mexican giants, Club America, 4-0 on aggregate. Last season the Union advanced to the Semifinals once again with aggregate wins over Alianza F.C. and Atlas FC.