WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Pachuca scored a wonder goal in the 93rd minute to beat Cruz Azul on aggregate Wednesday night and claim the CONCACAF Champions League title and secure a place in the World Club Cup. Cruz Azul had won the first leg 2-1 in Mexico City last Wednesday and it set up a thrilling second leg that culminated in a thrilling finish. A truly entertaining affair, if anyone had cared enough to watch it.

The 2009-10 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League was entertaining at times, but lets face it, this competition is never going anywhere until the Major League Soccer teams start to show that they belong in the tournament. Aside from the Pachuca-Houston matches a few years ago the MLS sides have looked woeful, outmatched and out of shape, and there are reasons for that, to be sure, but let us not, however, take anything away from the prowess of the teams from south of the Rio Grande.

Mexican teams have dominated the competition to the point where it becomes laughable. Six of the last nine seasons BOTH teams in the final have been Mexican. Central American teams have made strides and won the tournament in 2004 and 2005 and even USSF Division 2 sides Montreal Impact and Puerto Rico Islanders put together impressive runs in the 2008-09 edition of the tournament, both teams making the semifinals, but without MLS teams at least making a good show out of it, the tournament will continue to sag and be of little interest to anyone, including anyone in Mexico.

Mexican teams want to win the tournament so they can participate in the lucrative World Club Championship, but most teams would rather grab the more steady TV money and the far easier to attain group stages of South America’s championship, the Copa Libertadores. The Mexican fans want the Copa Libertadores too.

Toluca fans are much more likely to show up to the stadium or to tune in on TV if their team is playing Santos or Boca Juniors than they would if they were playing Columbus or Dallas.

Major League Soccer feels the same way apparently and this week announced that a ‘sub-committee’ would be formed to look into the matter of the leagues lack of success in the regional championship.

There is hope that the MLS teams (as many as 5 if Toronto FC can win the 2010 Canadian Championship) competing in the tournament this coming season will have what it takes to battle with the best down South.  Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders will enter the 2010-11 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League in the qualifying stage whereas Real Salt Lake and Columbus Crew will enter into the Group Stage proper.

We will find out more details in June when the draw is announced and first recommendations from the new ‘sub-committee’ will be made in the fall of 2010.

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