Well ladies and gentleman, this is what I have been hoping for a good while now. A better tournament and an expansion from a cup into a league format along with the away goals rule. Finally Jack Warner along with the rest of his group in the offices of CONCACAF got it right. Even though the Houston Dynamo are the lone MLS representative in this tournament you can’t argue as a true football supporter that there has been action and drama just like what goes on in the UEFA Champions League.
The Dynamo leading all match long till Atlante got their much needed away goal to equalize and head down to Mexico for the second leg. A brilliant night for Canada and the supporters of Montreal filling up the Big O with over 55,500 and a big match for Eduardo Sebrango as he earned a brace in the Impact’s first leg against Oswaldo Sanchez’s Santos Laguna. All night long the supporters were singing just like they do for the Canadiens at the Bell Centre for NHL Hockey.
And once again another fantastic night for the USL as the PuertoRico Islanders who were down a goal just four minutes before halftime by C.D. Marathon came on in the secondhalf hunting for an equalizer, but got goals in a span of eight minutes from second half substitutes Nicolas Addlery in the 74th Minute and Kendall Jagdeosingh in the 81st. Yes PuertoRico gave up the away goal, but once again it’s going to be fun when next week comes around to see if they can match it.
This is the main reason why the old Champions Cup had to be extended into a Champions League to help our players in MLS and those that are members of the USL but qualify in their countries to have more experience in International play. Sadly the past qualifying round and group stages three of the four clubs that came from MLS didn’t get far because of the interference to play Superliga before this tournament got started last year. That’s of course Chivas-USA, the New England Revolution as Superliga champions as well as the injury riddled DC United. I’m glad to see that MLS has made the change to not allow clubs that do qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League to be involved with Superliga.
I am very excited for the end of July 2009 as Red Bull NY will be involved withthe qualifying round for the upcoming 2009-10 Champions League. This will be the first time I will see my club involved with International Club Competition inside CONCACAF since 2001 when they were known as the MetroStars and were invited to the South American tournament that was the predecessor of the Copa SudAmericana. It was called the Copa Merco Norte and at the time it was four groups of four from the USA, Mexico & the clubs from South America.
I saw the Metro defeat Venezuelan side Deportivo Italchacao two nil, a road loss to Colombian side Millionarios. They were suppose to play Chivas of Guadalajara at Giants Stadium, but 9-11 happened and when it was rescheduled, Guadalajara claimed the USA wasn’t safe to play, but ignored the tournament and the Metro for a classico match with Club America. So the goats were suspended and lost six points along with four goals and all my club needed was a draw to advance into the Quarterfinals. Sadly it was a loss at Italchacao & a loss to Millionarios at Giants Stadium that eliminated them from the knock out stages. But I can gladly say that I was at Giants Stadium to see my club defeat Italchacao in International Club Competition.
Let’s hope the 2nd legs in the Quarterfinals are a lot better and more dramatic than the first legs in the CONCACAF Champions League.