MLS’ Failure South of the Border Continues

Despite a decent first half effort, DC United demonstrated Tuesday night that once again MLS is miles behind the Mexican League in terms of skill and quality. Pachuca, a side whose best days are firmly behind it and whom at this time can only be considered an average Mexican League side continued its recent dominance of events involving teams from MLS with a 2-0 win in Hidalgo.

United showed some quality early but it is obvious Luciano Emilio and Marcello Gallardo are not on the same page as of yet. With an opportunity to strike fast and early the two misread each other in the fifth minute depriving DC of perhaps its best scoring opportunity of the match. While the half ended in a stalemate with Zach Wells being forced to make only one dramatic save, it was obvious the superior skill and quality of Pachuca, combined with the altitude were beginning to take a tool on DC United.

The second half saw DC hold its shape early but eventually collapse. United did almost get a goal on a counterattack when Marcello Gallardo’s cross nearly found Fred at the back post, and then later when Emilio was taken down in space, but honestly United looked completely inferior and outclassed. Considering DC spent its offseason retooling with several new Latin American faces, the fact that United cannot get a result on Mexican soil is proof that while we are told the standard of MLS is consistently improving, the league still doesn’t measure up to the top league in the region.

The only way to truly measure MLS is performance in legitimate international competitions. Right now, I’m not sure a single MLS team could make the playoffs in the Mexican League. I could be wrong in saying that but I believe that to be the case. The soccer media in this country these days gravely underestimates the quality of Mexican Football, and to be honest many underestimate the quality of MLS just as badly.

Football in this part of the world is different from Europe, thanks to climate, travel considerations, pitch size, etc. Yet it seems many analysts like to compare MLS and the Mexican League to their favorite European first or second divisions, based on a standard that is decidedly European. From my vantage point that is a tremendous injustice. The two leagues should be compared to one another and to other leagues in this region but not to leagues on other continents or in other hemispheres.

Based on this standard, the Mexican League is the best in this part of the world, and MLS still has some way to go to be competitive. Later this week I’ll get more into the American Ethos and why the Mexican League represents more of an acceptable model for MLS than most European Leagues.

5 thoughts on “MLS’ Failure South of the Border Continues”

  1. Miles behind in terms of skill and quality? That’s garbage and you know it. Last year Pachuca advanced past the Dynamo in Superliga with the help of some dubious officiating. Even if it is true (which it’s not), why the negative spin against the US over the past few blogs? Now that the MLS season is upon us we should rejoice at a new opportunity to let the quality on the pitch speak for itself; not jump off the bandwagon after an away loss by a DC side that’s struggled mightily in big games for years now. Stick with us for a bit longer Kartik; I know the rest of the footballing world is in its home stretch, but our season has just begun.

  2. I have to wonder if DC isn’t just suffering from not having the sufficient amount of time for some of their new faces to gell together. Frankly I don’t think DC is going to have a good season this year. Although, I do not want to take anything away from Pachuca’s win by throwing out multiple excuses for United’s poor performance.

    Bottom line, MLS is like you said still playing catch up with the MFL.

    NOTE: You mentioned on a past American Soccer Show episode that Damian Alverez of Pachuca is the same Damian who played with Dallas in 97.

    You are thinking of this Damian Alverez

    The one who plays for Pachuca is an Argentine who came from Riverplate’s reserve team.

  3. Thanks Frank. Good catch and I stand corrected.

    Berlin, when MLS teams prove they can consistently beat Mexican teams during the Mexican mid-season we’ll have a debate. Right now we’re just trying to prop up a league who level of play is nowhere near that of the Mexican League. Superliga was played entirely on US soil during the Mexican preseason and guess what? Pachuca won the competition. Houston made great strides with their performance last year against a strong Pachuca club in the champions Cup, but DC proved last night how wide a gap still exists between the two leagues.

    It’s not negative spin. I don’t feel MLS should EVER be compared to British leagues as so many in our media and in this country like to do. As I have pointed out before the different climate, environment, travel requirements etc make the leagues too dis-similar and despite the cries from the Anglo-snobs who claim MLS is like the Conference we’ve seen plenty of successful Premiership players come stateside and fall on their face.

    But MLS should be compared to a league geographically close, with a similar setup, in which matches are often played between the two. In the late 1990s MLS teams fared better against Mexican teams because as I have argued on the show the DC United team circa 1998 or 1999 was better than any team in MLS since. That’s where I find the spin about the level of play constantly improving totally disingenuous. Improved from 2003? Yes, but from 1999? Maybe not.

    MLS will get its chance in the new CONCACAF Champions League to beat Mexican teams and yes in Superliga. While MLS won more games against the Mexican League last year it was Pachuca who triumphed and once again proved the quality and depth of their league is far better than ours for the time being.

  4. One leg of a home and home series is only half of a 180minute match. As we saw against Harbor View, DC ’08 isn’t a great away side. However, i didn’t see DC as a failure. I saw a Pachuca side that came out flying against a DC side which they respect. Also, it seemed that Gallardo had a tough time adjusting to the pace of Pachuca’s midfield. He was stripped of the ball, and pressured into bad passes often. the home team should win in international competition. Just look at Fenerbache v. Chelsea.
    I don’t think that any MLS side is good enough to dominate a top FMF side in their home stadium. We’ll see if Pachuca can dominate in DC. THEN i would agree that DC was outclassed. Winning at home is expected, vital, in international club soccer.

  5. DC looked gassed at about minute 65. I believe DC has turned over too much of its team and put too much faith in foreign players who don’t have the skill and understanding of each other yet. I am confident Houston will show better, but if they don’t it is one major black eye for MLS.

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