While looking ahead to the Sounders 2010 schedule -- as we began in the post below -- I thought it might also be a good time to clarify the impact of the Sounders' 2009 U.S. Open Cup title.
By beating D.C. United earlier this month, Seattle clinched only a home-and-road CONCACAF Champions League play-in series against an opponent to be determined. The winner of that round goes into group play, thereby assuring itself of another six games.
Here's the word from general manager Adrian Hanauer.
"By winning the Open Cup we qualify for the play-in stage," he said. "There will be 24 teams in the Champions League, eight of which are automatically qualified for group stage. So the winner of MLS Cup qualifies for group stage automatically, and the Supporters Shield. The other two that come from MLS go into the play-in stage, where it’s eight teams against eight teams – home and away – and then the eight winners of those series go into the group stage. And at that point, then you have three home and three away."
Sounders officials said they haven't yet determined if that home play-in game will be part of the 18-game season-ticket package for next season.