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Dynamo Join Islanders and Impact in CONCACAF knock out rounds

1ching Dynamo Join Islanders and Impact in CONCACAF knock out rounds

Brian Ching’s header last night sent the Dynamo through to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. For all the criticisms of this tournament by MLS apologists, the event has produced from my vantage point much more entertaining football than MLS itself, and the Dyanmo who are a class organization whose goal is to collect silverware took the event seriously and it has paid off.

The irony is that Don Garber seemed defensive in his comments last week about USL’s success in the competition and has now changed the criteria for Superliga qualification thus allowing CONCACAF qualifiers to focus on that competition. Irrespective of the spin coming out of MLS HQ and Commissioner Garber’s mouth, I have believed for months now that the success of USL-1 side Montreal Impact in the Champions League made owner Joey Saputo and his co-investor George Gillett of Liverpool  fame think MLS was less attractive. Whatever the real story is behind the rejection/withdrawal of Montreal’s MLS bid, the success of the Impact in CONCACAF made it possible.

Commissioner Garber has tacitly accepted the importance and value of the new tournament by changing the qualification criteria for Superliga, which now takes on a UEFA Cup type feel. The previous dilemma of how Superliga and the Champions League could co-exist has been resolved and the new Superliga format will  prove to be effective for giving MLS Cup playoff qualifiers exposure to international competition.

The reality which has been lost on commentators and other MLS apologists who have bashed CONCACAF is that the Dynamo’s win last night was critical for salvaging MLS reputation in Central America and the Caribbean where this tournament is being taken very seriously by the local media.  MLS has established its reputation as a superior league for players from these countries and is also a more accesible league for Central Americans and Caribbean stars than the FMF is. But many a football pundit in CONCACAF region had belittled MLS’ lack of competitiveness in this event. It may have been lost on those in the US, but the Caribbean press was unrelenting in its shots at MLS when Joe Public, a side whose history in these competitions has been one of futility pummeled MLS’ New England Revolution. Joe Public again proved their futility in group stages and was actually run off the pitch at home by the USL Montreal Impact.

Fixture congestion and lack of prestige in this competition were cited by MLS apologists as reasons not to care. But the two USL teams that competed and ultimately advanced to the knock out stages faced worse fixture congestion during the group stages than any MLS side.  The lack of prestige argument never held water either, because MLS fans and officials were sweaty each and every year when the forerunner event of the Champions League, the Champions Cup took place. As was the case so often in the Champions Cup and in Superliga, the Houston Dyanmo alone have kept MLS credible.

MLS fans can live in an isolated coccon but under Oliver Luck and Dom Kinnear the Dynamo will not.  Inspite of not winning the official MLS title this year, Houston has demonstrted again it is the best in the business. It seems that despite the rhetoric of the typical MLS fan, the league itself maybe taking the lesson taught by the Dyanamo and implementing it as an official league policy. Thank goodness for that.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

5 Responses to Dynamo Join Islanders and Impact in CONCACAF knock out rounds

  1. Brian says:

    I do want to point out that after the match, Dynamo Coach Dominic Kinnear was highly critical of the tactics employed by Firpo and of the officiating. It was a very physical match, Firpo players resorted to spitting and crotch punching at times, in addition to the typical play acting. Firpo’s goalkeeper was hit by his own player, cleared the ball, then went into theatrics in an effort to have a penalty called against Corey Ashe, thankfully that tactic didn’t work. I do fault Dynamo players like Eddie Robinson and Dwayne DeRosario for allowing the Firpo antics to frustrate them to the point they took foolish actions that led to bookings. When asked (and in full disclosure, by me), whether he’d prefer to be in SuperLiga or CCL next year, Dominic Kinnear said SuperLiga, and that was because of the crap these southern teams pull on the pitch. That being said, Kinnear fully recognized that the Dynamo are flying the banner of the MLS in the CCL and they will focus on making it to and winning the competition. One final note, Nate Jaqua should be appluaded for his desire and willingness to suit up for the Dynamo one last time, and the crowd expressed its gratitude when he left the pitch last night.

  2. chop says:

    Kartik,

    I don’t necessarily disagree with your general notion that MLS teams didn’t take this competition seriously.

    The argument I have to make is with your comparison to the USL sides playing with similar fixture congestion as with the MLS sides. Fair enough point for sure, but let’s look a bit closer at is shall we?

    First of all DC United were an embarrassment in this tournament. That much is true. However, they were forced to field a reserve team for four of their six group matches, all of which missing their top player in Gallardo. Nevermind the fact that United were EASILY in the toughest group by a mile. I dare say Puerto Rico and Montreal would not have advanced out of group A. You could even make the argument that three of the top 4 teams in the whole competition were in Group A.

    Back to the congestion issue. In one stretch for United they had to play away to Saprissa, away to Houston and then home against New England and away to Cruz Azul. All within 12 days of each other.

    With all due respect to what Montreal and Puerto Rico have been through and where they gone in this competition, playing back to back games against the Atlanta Silverbacks and Carolina Railhawks just doesn’t add up to the same thing.

    This of course does not excuse United’s poor performance, it simply magnifies what they were up against in comparison to the USL teams.

    As stated earlier, put both Montreal and PR in United’s group and you don’t have this subject to write about.

    Put United in either of Montreal or PR’s group and they may have just had enough to get out of the group, though I doubt it considering that United were without Gallardo, Emilio, Fred and Moreno for 4 of the 6 group matches.

    The USL have done themselves proud no doubt, but it was more a circumstance of convenience that it was about being better than their MLS bretheren.

  3. bandeeto says:

    Whether MLS teams took CCL seriously or not the bottom line is they were not prepared. MLS may have shot itself in the foot with fixture congestion, small roster size, and a salary cap that, when compared to other professional leagues in the region, is stifling.

    However, MLS seems to have taken it’s first steps towards righting the ship. For this I applaud them. Now I hope they continue in their efforts towards making our league all that it can be. I don’t condemn MLS for making mistakes. However I would blame them for not correcting their mistakes.

  4. steve says:

    Bottom Line: MLS and ABC/ESPN win if USL is marginalized. However, if USL continues to excel and eventually compete on and off the pitch against MLS (a la: AL & NL baseball; AFC & NFC NFL), U.S. Soccer fans Win Big…

  5. Jonathan says:

    MLS is lucky that the Dynamo salvaged some credibility for it. The shame of USL teams qualifying while MLS teams are eliminated would be a permanent one, and I’m assuming that the top brass of MLS knows that concept.

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