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Leagues: MLS

Does Superliga Have a Future?

Let me get out of the way that I am thrilled by Houston’s slaying of the monster that is Pachuca, and look forward to almost a near certain all MLS tournament final. This is the first victory by an MLS team over a Mexican team in a knock stage of a competition since 1998. However, this year’s tournament and the bitterness felt by Mexican sides likely means the competition will have to be substantially revamped or abolished altogether.

Tonight, Pachuca it appeared scored first on a beautiful goal after playing a flawless match to that point tactically. Enrique Meza had his team absorb the pressure from high flying Houston in the first half. But the goal was disallowed. This is simply the most recent controversial call in this Superliga competition. Strangely every single disputable call has gone against an FMF side and favored an MLS side. For a Mexican press corp already dubious about this competition and looking for any opportunity to rip American Soccer, this is the reddest of meats. It’s actually like serving a live animal to a caged Tiger.

When you consider additionally the frustration CD Guadalajara has faced the past two years being eliminated due to head to head results rather than goal difference, it becomes plainly obvious that either the FMF will demand some changes to the event, or even more dramatic, you’ll see top Mexican sides begin to decline invitations to the event as Cruz Azul did last year.

Most Mexican coaches do not like Interliga, the SUM sponsored event held on American soil every year that awards a spot in the Copa Libertadoras. I believe these same coaches are beginning to detest Superliga as well. FMF sides believe they are vastly superior to MLS teams. I will not dispute that because the evidence is that they are on the whole vastly superior. But in the odd event that they lose like tonight, the event will always be viewed with a qualification or an asterisk in Mexico. Additionally it gives the impetus for the event to be killed.

In regards to the match, I believe the decision by Dominic Kinnear to insert Cory Ashe’s fresh legs and tireless runs down the wing in place of a tired Brad Davis whose sole late game function would have been to serve as a dead ball specialist won the match. Those are the types of tactical moves most American coaches do not make: the type of moves which make you wonder why Kinnear wasn’t given a long look to replace Bruce Arena. Perhaps it’s Bob Bradley’s familiarity with the US system as a coach, as opposed to Kinnear’s as a player that made Bradley the slam dunk choice when Jurgen Klinsmann said no. Perhaps it’s simply comfort with Bradley, or maybe Kinnear wasn’t yet established enough at that point. But when you have a coach whose dominating your domestic game and hands your league its most significant international victory of the past eight years while your national team is ranked twenty five spots below where it was twenty five months ago, isn’t considered it raises some serious questions.

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  1. Javier

    July 30, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Playing matches in the Mexican preseason and having controversy to boot isn’t building MLS abroad. It’s making it look like a second rate league.

    That is the bottom line.

    MLS is allegedly in business according to some still simply because SUM makes so much cash off these events. What does MLS itself lose in money? Judging by the number of free tickets and other deals, probably more than anyone knows.

    I prefer to focus on Latin Football, La Liga and the US National Team. MLS was doing better when it was sticking with US players, growing the game and building around American players not washed up 35 year olds looking for a final paycheck.

  2. Brian

    July 30, 2008 at 11:53 am

    But doesn’t the League need to find ways like this to make money and market itself beyond the borders of the US? Getting exposure, developing interest, and maybe getting some tv deals in other countries one of these days?

    I don’t mind the money grab so long as it is pumped back into the league for growth and improvement. Maybe that’s what we should focus on, where is the money going.

  3. Kiwi Yank

    July 30, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Kartik, some advice. Superliga is a total sham. Stop trying to build it up as a rival to the Champions Cup. It’s simply a three week long SUM cash grab.

    Some of us are fed up with MLS for reasons like this. The league is far more interested in making quick money and ironically practicing the same business ethics as the NASL than anything else.

    The whole tournament and for that matter everything SUM does is a sham.

  4. John. Harris

    July 30, 2008 at 9:30 am

    It was a bad call.

    But that is not really the point.

    This event especially with the CCL starting up this year is a sham and totally unnecessary. A cash grab by SUM is exactly what it, football detective is correct. No way this tournament continues unless it’s played partly in Mexico.

    Pachuca’s loss and Atlante’s impending loss will sour the Mexicans. The third time final between Houston and New England will sour MLS fans. We are beginning to feel like England with the same two or three clubs winning everything. So how is the salary cap keeping the league competitive? It is not. Two teams play the cap better than everyone else so they win everything.

  5. Brian

    July 30, 2008 at 8:22 am

    As for the offsides call, due to where I was sitting I did not have a good view, but post-match, Kinnear, who is quite willing to acknowledge bad calls that go his team’s way, stated it was a good offsides call. I’ll have to find some video.

  6. Berlin

    July 30, 2008 at 2:38 am

    It’s hard to give leeway to the same club that benefited so drastically from the same situation a season removed. Problem is, MLS can’t compete with the NFL. Until the day that soccer can rival the big three, we’ll never have a season that syncs with FMF. We all were happy with the MLS’ glorious defeat last year when LA played a great game in the final (of course, the Galaxy were terrible and played above their heads in an impressive showing of heart). However, if FMF doesn’t appreciate Superliga, then abolish it. I’m sure ABC and ESPN will be devastated. It’s our time as Americans to establish the game on our terms. We can’t compete during the NFL season, but we can compete during the FMF season. It was preseason, but now it’s not. You lose, you don’t get another gold star. Great game for the Dynamo. Hard to see the call without replay, but games aren’t reversed the day after. Cheers, and a great win for the MLS.

  7. ivebeenrobbened

    July 30, 2008 at 1:06 am

    trz – i dont think he’s bashing bradley at all. this was a ‘touchstone’ match and it has relevance in all the places KK touched on. There was real passion and ardido in this match on a tuesday night semi final on american soil. that is fucking positive.

  8. Football Detective

    July 30, 2008 at 12:58 am

    SuperLiga is a cash grab by SUM.

    Kinnear is on the rise along with Steve Nicol – their time will come.

  9. TRZ

    July 30, 2008 at 12:50 am

    good piece except for the last part.

    Can you get through a post without bashing bob bradley.

    honestly the whole superliga is a sham.

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