Despite Champions Cup loss, Crew has plenty to play for in 2024

Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be blunt: the Crew losing the Champions Cup final sucks. The way they lost makes it all worse. So, let’s appreciate what it took to get to the final while looking ahead at what is still to come, because the Crew has plenty to play for.


Defending their MLS Cup title is now the priority. Former major league baseball manager Jim Leyland, who led the Florida Marlins to a 1997 World Series win, always believed a team got into position to get into position. Right now, the Crew sits in seventh place in the MLS Eastern Conference standings. While most of the league has hit the halfway point in their schedule, the Crew sits three games short of that mark. They need to use those games-in-hand to make up ground and put themself in a position to make a run over the final two months of the regular season for the Supporters’ Shield or a high playoff seeding. You don’t get any trophies for being the best team through June, but you can certainly begin to set up yourself to be the best as the playoffs begin.

2025 Champions Cup

The Crew’s run through the Champions Cup tournament was as glorious as the finals’ loss was painful. So, I’m sure there isn’t a member of the organization or fan base who does not have a burning desire to see them have a chance to do it again next year, but with a better ending. MLS squads can qualify in multiple ways, including winning the MLS Cup, the Supporters’ Shield, or the Leagues Cup. They can also qualify based on where they finish in the Supporters’ Shield standings, so keep an eye on just where they sit when the regular season ends.

Leagues Cup

Yes, I know what you’re thinking and I really don’t care much about this either about this owner-contrived moneymaker. But, even if the Crew finishes just third, they’ll qualify for the 2025 Champions Cup. Because they are the reigning MLS champions, they get to bypass the group stage and go straight to the Round of 32 where they will face the second-place team from a group consisting of Toluca FC from Liga MX, Sporting Kansas City, and Chicago. If they advance from that round, things could get very interesting because a rematch with Pachuca is possible. I really don’t care much about the Leagues Cup, but I’d love to see a healthy Crew team get another shot at that bunch.

That crappy (almost literally) loss in the Champions Cup final is still fresh. But when June 14th rolls around and the Crew takes on NYCFC, it will be time for all involved to put that loss behind us and focus on defending that MLS Cup title.