There's been no official announcement yet, but word on the street is that CONCACAF, the North and Central American soccer federation, is planning to overhaul its existing club champions' competition to make it look (and sound) more like UEFA's Champions League. According to the Washington Post's Stephen Goff, the new tournament will in fact be called the CONCACAF Champions League, and will be modeled on its European cousin, although fewer teams will participate.
MLS will have four participants: Houston, the winner of MLS Cup, New England, the tournament's runner-up, D.C. United, the Supporter's Shield winner, and Chivas USA, the league runner-up. The competition is great for MLS because it will give the league instant visibility across the continent, while adding spice to the growing rivalry between American and Mexican clubs. Soccer purists will be thankful the expanded competition gives greater importance to "winning the league" than being runner-up at MLS Cup, as both the runner-up to the Supporter's Shield and MLS Cup will be forced to enter a qualifying round before making it to the official tournament.
According to Goff, the tournament will contain sixteen teams in four groups of four. Teams will play each other home and away, with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the knockout stage, which begins with the quarterfinals. The tournament will unfold over seven months, beginning in March and ending in the fall.