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MLS/USL News

reis ap MLS/USL News

Matt Reis was the hero in the 2008 Superliga Final/AP

A day after the US suffered its worst ever loss to Brazil and four days after our national team was beaten by Italy by the worst scoreline since 1934 let’s refocus temporarily on the club game. (I suspect thanks to the disgraceful US performances of the last month the conversation about the national team is going to extend far beyond the final whistle in the Confederations Cup)

The third annual Superliga begins tomorrow. Unlike the first two editions which featured the best from MLS against some of the best from Mexico, this event features the second set of MLS’ best against four teams from Mexico that finished in the bottom half of the Clausura standings.

Santos Laguna – 9th
Atlas – 13th
San Luis – 15th
UNAL Tigres – 16th

Now Atlas performed well in the Copa Libertadoras a few years back while Santos simply had a bad run. But inviting San Luis and Tigres is interesting. San Luis played well in the Libertadoras this season, but is a club without much of an American based following and very little history. The club was in the second division as recently as four years ago. Tigres does have a following especially in the border areas of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. But the club has not been as strong the past few seasons as they were in the early part of this decade.

Nonetheless, thank Soccer United Marketing for continuing to try and bring top football to stadiums in the United States. All of the European club tours are nice, but some of us are deeply grounded in the American game and CONCACAF and we like seeing Mexican teams and the FMF in general as often as possible. Looking for a Superliga favorite? How about Chivas USA who is still smarting form being eliminated in a “home” game last year at Titan Stadium in Fullerton.

Toronto FC clinched a CONCACAF Champions League birth with an improbable 6-1 win over the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium. Toronto FC will be overwhelming favorites to reach the group stage of the tournament having the good fortune of drawing second division club Puerto Rico Islanders whose CONCACAF run of last season has zero chance of being repeated. Colin Clarke’s side has won their past two USL matches but prior to that was dropping points to inferior teams and was having lineup issues. TFC should advance easily, and Vancouver would also have advanced had they won the Canadian Championship.

Miami FC is now sitting in the last playoff spot in USL-1. Despite playing a fifth game in nine days, the Florida based club won in Cleveland 2-1. Miami’s travel itinerary over the past week plus is precisely why the arguments made by MLS fans about fixture congestion costing the league’s clubs in CONCACAF while ignoring USL’s own scheduling issues is foolish. Miami Ultra’s President Pieter Brown had a good story last week on USL’s scheduling. Miami FC played in an Open Cup game at home last Tuesday, in Vanocuver Friday, home against Austin Sunday, home in an Open Cup game Tuesday at Cleveland Thursday and again at Cleveland Saturday. That’s 6 games in 11 days, and that does not happen to MLS clubs.

Thank the College World Series spillover crowd for giving MLS its highest ESPN rating in years- a 0.4 on ESPN2 the other night for Seattle-DC United. As much as “soccer snobs” complain about ESPN preempting MLS for what are ultimately more meaningful and interesting sporting events the ESPN tie has its benefits. Had the MLS game been moved to ESPN Classic as some have suggested the typical ESPN audience of less than half of the spillover audience would have seen the match. Some may have liked it so much they’ll come back.

I’ve heard whispers among some in the media and fans that the current poor form of the USMNT is bound to affect interest in MLS and USL. This is no brainer: unlike more developed football countries where the club game can sustain a bad dip from the national team, in the US far more fans follow the national team than the domestic leagues. (In fact I have several friends who I cannot convince to watch MLS and sometimes don’t even bother with European football but never miss a big national team game) For years now MLS and the A-League/USL has fed off the National Team to hook fans and provide spikes in interest. With the national team according to some pundits (including one well respect commentator on the most recent MLS Talk podcast) playing worse than 15 years ago when the A-League was basically semi-professional and MLS did not exist, the USSF needs to consider making some changes if even cosmetic to the national team program.

This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, MLS, USL. Bookmark the permalink.

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 →

17 Responses to MLS/USL News

  1. Jason says:

    I could not agree with your comments about the USMNT affecting clubs more. While, I will still attend the Colorado/DCU game tomorrow night, I can not say I am really looking forward to it. In fact, I have spent my whole day wondering if there are other things I can do tomorrow night. I know 100% this is not rational, and once I am at the game tomorrow night I will enjoy, but it has just been a rough week for fans of US Soccer.

  2. Robert says:

    Great comments, especially about the USMNT affecting our domestic leagues. This is a subject for a more in depth analysis — one which would probably scare the owners of struggling USL and MLS teams.

    But, I must give applause for the Seattle v. DC game on Wednesday night. Due to timing issues, I watched it on the tape delay telecast (not knowing the result) at 10pm that night. I was thoroughly entertained, so much so that the doldrums following the USMNT Italy loss were forgotten (until Thursday morning!) For those of you lucky enough to live in an MLS or USL city, enjoy a live game this weekend and wash off the stink from South Africa. Soccer fans deserve that, as do the local clubs.

    While it is true that the performance of the USMNT affects the perception and popularity of our domestic clubs, it is also true that a large and supportive fan base for MLS and USL will benefit the national program. Public interest = sponsorship and media attention = money available to grow the US player talent pool.

  3. Lars says:

    I was in Montreal for The Miracle. It was a great game and we were singing and chanting the whole way through, like good TFC fans.

  4. eplnfl says:

    I am on the side of the idea that the failure of the USMNT in the Confed Cup is a setback for soccer in America. If we beat Brazil in a game that counts for something or Italy and with ESPN showing the games it would have been a SportsCenter lead. Many of you may be too young to remember the 1980 Olympic Hockey team. Their miracle run on national tv to a gold medal is still thought of as top, if not the top victory in American sports.

    With very little going on right now on the American sports calender the US Men have missed a unique opportunity to be the top story in American sport. The average American will look at the results and assign soccer to the sports basements here as a game the US can not play. Sad indeed.

  5. BoriQa says:

    >>Puerto Rico Islanders whose CONCACAF run of last season has zero
    >>chance of being repeated. Colin Clarke’s side has won their past two
    >>USL matches but prior to that was dropping points to inferior teams and
    >>was having lineup issues. TFC should advance easily, and Vancouver
    >>would also have advanced had they won the Canadian Championship.

    This may come back to haunt you.

    Islanders defeated previously undefeated Charleston for the 2nd night in a row today. Puerto Rico is now undefeated in their last 6 starts (5 wins and a draw), and are now in 1st place of the League. We are back!

    TFC will become just another statistic, the 1st MLS team ever kicked out of the CCL by a USL team.

  6. J says:

    >>Puerto Rico Islanders whose CONCACAF run of last season has zero chance
    >>of being repeated. Colin Clarke’s side has won their past two USL matches
    >>but prior to that was dropping points to inferior teams…

    That is a weak argument. It can happen but not because of what you said.

    You need to read recent history, this is the same thing that happened last year. They were losing points left and right then they won or draw a lot of games in a row i believe it was 17 (includiing USL and CCL)

  7. Intru says:

    As we chanted after today/s match against Charleston “Bring on Toronto, We are not afraid” but in Spanish.

  8. CM says:

    For this season’s SuperLiga, the FMF teams were not simply invited. The 4 clubs were the highest in the aggregate 2008 table (CL + AP), not including those going to the CONCACAF Champions League. The exception is Chivas, who declined.

    SAN LUIS – 1st
    Chivas – 2nd (declined to participate)
    Toluca – 3rd (CCL)
    Cruz Azul – 4th (CCL)
    SANTOS – 5th
    Pumas – 6th (CCL)
    TIGRES – 7th
    ATLAS – 8th

  9. Hmm, Islanders with zero chance of repeating?

    Have to disagree strongly with you there. It certainly remains to be seen but don’t forget that last year we had a slower start to the season compared to this one. The team had a slow start but are now undefeated in their last 6 and beat 1st place Charleston twice this week.

    TFC will be tough, but as they proved in the Nutrilite Championship – they’re not that much better than USL-1 sides (see Vancouver)

  10. Lars says:

    I would disagree that TFC is not much better than USL-1 Sides.

    For the game where they lost to Vancouver, they were missing two of their better players now, Garcia was still with San Jose (and Harmse had to play defender, which he isn’t suited for), and Guevara was away on National Team duty with Honduras.

    Guevara and Dichio are the engines of Toronto’s offense, with one of them missing from the line up, the team doesn’t look right on the offensive.

    At the back, any time you have to have Velez or Harmse as a Defender, the team doesn’t look right at the back. Harmsy’s a solid mid-fielder but is not a central defender, and Velez…he can go back to Puerto Rico any time he pleases.

    I’d rather play a backline consisting of Gomez, Attakora, or anybody else, hell, we could put Chad Barrett back there, and he’d do a better job than Velez.

  11. Lars, Puerto Rico is not an average USL side. This piece was written before I watched the last two games- Clarke has a deeper team than anyone in MLS or USL which explains why the Islanders almost made the CCL final last year. So TFC is probably better than 10 of 11 USL sides for sure. But the question is are they better than the best USL has to offer and the one team outside Mexico with some pedigree in this new competition? I wrote this last week and am beginning to think I jumped the gun on this issue.

  12. Megadicto says:

    Enough said!… Go PR Islanders!

  13. Bori427 says:

    Lars, your precious TFC played against the Impact Subs, you won’t be able to defeat the deepest team in the MLS/USL which is the Islanders

  14. BoriQa says:

    >> Puerto Rico is not an average USL side. This piece was written before I
    >> watched the last two games- Clarke has a deeper team than anyone in
    >> MLS or USL which explains why the Islanders almost made the CCL final
    >> last year…. I wrote this last week and am beginning to think I jumped
    >> the gun on this issue.

    You are human. We forgive you.

  15. Sage says:

    Kartick… I wasn’t going to post because I felt that somehow you had screwed up with your prediction. But I just read that comment and I must applaud you for seeing the light :D.

    I have been analyzing the situation, and since our TFC friend has mentioned Guevara probably wont be playing for TFC during their home leg, because the Gold Cup is being played at the same time. So I figured Guevara is a 45% no show. Also DeRo will be away in international duty because of the same reason.

    One thing the Islanders have going against them is BMO’s Field Turf. THe last couple of games the Troop has played on turf they have either tied or lost. But this is talking about a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE… field turf the Austin Aztex call home.

    If the Islanders can manage to score at least 1 goal and/or tie… the return leg is an assured win. Canadian teams have a bad habit of coming to the Caribbean and losing… just like Alajuelense, Santos, Tauro FC, Cruz Azul, etc etc.
    The Islandera is a very hard place to play as a visitor, especially when more than 12,000 men and women come to the game. And if I know my compatriots, they will come by the busloads (hopefully if the game is marketed correctly) just to see Marco Velez, the Captain of the National Team.

    Also for the away leg, TFC will probably lose some key players like DeRo, Dichio, and Guevara… like I read in BigSoccer the MLS All Star Game is close by that date, and if I’m not mistaken also there are a couple of international friendlies in preparation for the renewal of the World Cup Qualifiers.

  16. Ski says:

    BRING IT ON TFC.

  17. BoriQa says:

    >>Toronto FC will be overwhelming favorites to reach the group stage of
    >>the tournament having the good fortune of drawing second division club
    >>Puerto Rico Islanders whose CONCACAF run of last season has zero
    >>chance of being repeated.

    Zero chance ah?

    TFC was counting their good fortune afterwards when taking their cold showers…

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