Major League Soccer is guaranteed four CONCACAF Champions League berths each year. They’re awarded to the MLS Supporter’s Shield winner, the U.S. Open Cup winner (technically it could be a non MLS team but it rarely happens) and the two MLS Cup participants.
If the same team earns two of the those spots, the Supporter’s Shield runner-up slides into the vacant spot. RSL is the Shield runner-up this year, and it can guarantee itself a spot in the 2011-2012 version of the Champions League by beating FC Dallas in their Western Conference semifinal series.
If RSL beats Dallas it will meet either Los Angeles or Seattle in the Western Conference final. Both teams have already locked up their CCL berths, with Seattle winning the U.S. Open Cup and L.A. claiming the Supporter’s Shield. Even if loses to either team, both Seattle and L.A. already have their invitation so RSL would claim it by default.
RSL can make matters much more simple by simply advancing to MLS Cup on its own to earn one of those two slots.
The bottom line, as an organization RSL has stated it wants to become an elite team not only in MLS but also in the CONCACAF region. Back-to-back appearances in the tournament would be a great start.