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CONCACAF Champions League

Puerto Rico 2:1 CD Marathon: Islanders Work off Rust in Big Second Half


Playing in a competitive match for the first time in months, the Puerto Rico Islanders looked disorganized and unsettled.This gave Honduran league leaders CD Marathon several first half opportunities due to a the Islanders losing their shape and not communicating well with one another. The Islanders had actually begun the game well behind Peter Villegas and Johnathan Steele’s strong play but faded around minute 15 not to recover until the second half.

But after halftime, Nicholas Adderly who helped defeat Puerto Rico last year in the USL final leveled the match for the Islanders and the hero of both the qualifying and group stages, Kendall Jagdeosingh the T&T international did it again scoring a late goal giving the Islanders an improbable win and a lead heading to the second leg of the quarterfinal tie in Honduras.

The pitch which often in Bayoman looks un kept was in outstanding condition and the football was entertaining despite the rust from the Islanders early. Once again Puerto Rico surged late and made it a night to remember for USL. Don’t expect the Islanders to sit on the one goal aggregate lead either: under Colin Clarke Puerto Rico plays a free flowing attacking style and I would expect the USL side to be chasing an away goal in the first half of the return leg next week.

Once again the results the previous two nights raises the big question about MLS teams excuse making in pre-season tournaments. Much as the league apologists made excuses based on fixture congestion only to have them refuted by the play of Puerto Rico and Montreal who were going through much more congested stretches of fixtures than any MLS team (Puerto Rico played 17 games in 47 days over 6 time zones at one point during the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League), these performances beg questions about MLS’ overall competitiveness.

The Houston Dynamo notwithstanding, the MLS has generally sent outclassed and disinterested sides into legitimate international competitions the past several seasons. With USL’s remarkable success at the highest levels in CONCACAF, Don Garber and co. in New York need to rethink how they schedule and approach these competitions. Many MLS oriented fans or snobs demand respect from the football world.  But regardless of the circumstances if the perception is you are being shown up by the second division in your country, you will never earn the respect you feel entitled to.

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  1. Jonathan

    March 7, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Undrafted, I give you credit for your semi humorous reply, but I still hold to the view and argue that the CCL is a very legit way for US/Canadian football to gain acceptance within the football communities IN the two countries. Much more legit than some dumb useless friendly with Euro clubs.

    In case you haven’t noticed, the US/Canadian football fan has a big chip on his/her shoulder. What better way to shed that while watching a US/Canadian club playing with the champions of other confederations. In any case, we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

  2. undrafted

    March 3, 2009 at 11:47 am

    and yes, my forgotten/know comment was backwards. It doesn’t read quite right but was meant to be partially sarcastic and avoid an actual insult. Whatever.

  3. undrafted

    March 3, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Jonathan, I probably know more about European football than you’ve forgotten. I can give you a scouting report on every squad player in the EPL. I have watched 2-3 EPL games (at least on FSC) every week for 5 years. I get GolTV and watch all their La Liga and Bundesliga coverage. I’ve followed the Champions League for over a decade including having seen every knockout game over the last 3 season. I’ve seen just about every FSC broadcast of the USL and NCAA over the last few years. I checked in on most every game of the recent CONMEBOL u20 event. I saw every game in the last few World Cups and most of the last couple Olympic, u20, and u17 events. I’ve seen just about every USMNT broadcast (adult and youth) for the last 15 years. Yes, this really shows I’ve spent way too much time watching football. But is also shows you have no clue about how to evaluate opinons different from your own.

    I’ll probably check in all the quarterfinals of the CCL this week. It is an event with potential. If you actually read my arguments you’d understand I’ve said this all along. Well done to Montreal and PR. But I still can have my own opinion that the CCL should earn its place in this vast world of football viewing options. It’s not important just because Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner tell you it’s important.

    Eventually this cometition might be one of my favorites. Maybe, maybe not. MLS is one of the leagues I follow. I get that it might not be up to some fans’ standards, but I have to question if it is not at all good enough why they would frequent “majorleaguesoccertalk”? I have enough experience following soccer in the US to have an idea what I think works and what won’t. And I’m not ashamed to have an opinion (or attempting to balance some of the discussion here) and can’t imagine what “reasons” anyone can find that their not my own. If anyone wants to continue a debate, I’ll probably show up on a few of the popular blogs from time to time. I swore off BigSoccer years ago. Gotta save some time for watching so many leagues (including USL). This apparently isn’t the place to actually try to “talk” about “major league soccer”. I’ll be somewhere else that features debate not just name calling.

  4. Jonathan

    March 3, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Ha ha. Undrafted shows up again. Fortunately, many football fans in the US don’t live in a vacuum (BigSoccer morons exempted). They’re knowledgeable about what happens in the Europe, South America, Mexico, and parts of Latin America. Hence, the viewership that dwarfs MLS figures of events like US/Mexico qualifiers, the Euros, Wold Cup figures on Spanish language networks/cable.

    Football is not one of those world in a vacuum like many US sports. Either live with it or be like MLS apologists like Undrafted.

    Thank goodness for CCL that shows how not so invincible FML teams are, and it shows how is the quality of MLS teams in a torunamnet that matters.

  5. Rafa in LA

    February 28, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Undrafted please no more of your rationalizations about how great MLS is. You seem to only appear when the MLS/USL question is throw out there.

    You do make some good points honestly, but they are being made for the wrong reasons, I fear.

  6. undrafted

    February 27, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    How many people showed up to watch Cruz Azul-Pumas? The Mexican teams (and especially their fans) don’t take it all that seriously until the final. They just assume they’ll squeek through and usually do. Look at the group standings, a few Mexican teams did JUST enough to make it through. None of them won more than 3 of their 6 games. The foreign players in Mexico are quite good. So they usually can turn it on when it counts. They can get away with it because they have more top talent than MLS clubs.

    Notice how they don’t seem to report attendance for many of the games hosted by Mexican teams? I’ve looked and can find little reported. But at least on TV the stands look pretty empty. Copa Liberatores is the big deal in Mexico. The Club World Cup has been more of a chance for embarassment.

    There isn’t a huge dropoff from fringe MLS starters to USL players. The USL players wanted it much more than the MLS players. This isn’t some poorly paid added burden for them. It’s a chance to shine. Same for the smaller countries’ teams. Look at Gregory Richardson. I’ve gone through it in detail before but my point is basically that MLS couldn’t afford to make this a priority in 2008. Commitments to SuperLiga had been made. Rosters weren’t designed to go 20+ deep (with senior players). Maybe it should have been a priority but the lineups fielded demonstrated that MLS coaches weren’t convinced/instructed to make it so.

    I get why this could be a big deal. Winning it certainly means something as the trip to the CWC equals money and publicity. But finishing 2nd? 4th? I’m not yet convinced that counts for much. Show me the publicity a quarterfinal 1st leg win has earned Montreal in the European press. Noone in Europe has a clue that Montreal is doing so well. Not yet.

    Some players do fall through the cracks. But guys like Adam Braz and David Testo had plenty of a chance to do well at the MLS level and most anyone would agree that they just weren’t good enough. A 24 year old David Testo wasn’t good enough. A 27 year old David Testo is a better player, but hardly an MLS starter. So in 2008 MLS used a guy like Ely Allen who was 22, worked for 12k/year, and got a shot to see if he could turn out to be an MLS starter. Well he couldn’t and now he’ll join Testo in the USL, even if in 2008 he wasn’t as good as a 27 year old David Testo. And at 27 he’ll be a better player than that 22 year old who played 12 or so games for LA. Maybe in some ways that’s what’s wrong with MLS. But I’d rather MLS teams keep costs low and not fold (see USL Miami) and occasionally discover those good young players like Chris Rolfe and Bobby Boswell who might never have had a chance if those 27 year olds starting in USL were kept around as fringe players.

    MLS isn’t a big part of the worldwide game yet. That’ll take time. The CONCACAF CL group stages and quarterfinals are far from being the only way MLS can take part in that world game.

  7. Lars

    February 27, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Oh I don’t deny it Ian. I’m an MLS fan first, I went and cheered on the Impact though. The CONCACAF game is far more important than the MLS Cup…

  8. Ian

    February 27, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    MLS scouting is poor. That’s why some of the better players fall through the cracks to USL.

    Secondly MLS lives in a total football vacuum when it comes to the worldwide game.

    These competitions define you. The league office and some kool aid drinkers may deny it and protest loudly but MLS doesn’t deserve any respect until they can take these sorts of events more seriously.

    undrafted has maintained since Kartik began posting some admittedly blatant pro USL articles over the summer of 08 that FMF teams don’t care about this competition. If that is the case, then how come both FMF sides that had to go through the qualifying stage won their two leg ties while both MLS sides lost? Why then did all four Mexican sides advance out of the group stage while only one MLS side did? How did USL manage to get more teams out of the groups than MLS? Does he not realize fixture congestion and travel conditions are much worse in USL than MLS?

    MLS does not deserve respect until it earns it. I love the league and support it, but c’mon people, stop drinking the kool aid!

  9. Lars

    February 27, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Look, I read the article and have a few things to say.

    First, is perhaps the USL is better representation of domestic talent. Despite the quota of players from the US/Canada for all american teams/TFC, these players are not the big names. Sure, there’s Donovan and De Ro, but generally people tend to talk more about the Latin American and English players (from my perspective anyway). If you look at the Impact, on the otherhand (Santos game notwithstanding) talk tends to be focused around the Canadian talent on that team. I imagine this is likely the same for the american teams except with american players.

    It’s generally cheaper to get american and canadian players because they’re disrespected in their own country. This is where sports economics breaks down in soccer. Generally the theory is that players will get paid what they deserve to get paid, but because N.A. domestic talent is either spat upon (in the worst case) or ignored (in the best case), domestic North American players have a tougher time getting the pay they deserve and the respect from higher paying leagues. The result is large numbers of talented domestics playing in what is generally viewed as a second tier league.

    Perhaps the MLS teams aren’t taking the competition seriously. Perhaps they may have players who aren’t suited for the American style game. Or, perhaps, there are a lot of good players getting paid less than what they should be, playing for teams most people never hear about.

  10. Kartik

    February 27, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Check out Luis Bueno’s piece for

    He basically talks about Mexican sides dominating the CONCACAF Champions League. So if they are not taking this competition seriously, that reflects even worse on the rest of the confederation.

    I personally don’t think the issue of what the top league in this region is can even be debated. Even the best MLS team would be unlikely to make the FMF playoffs at the end of each tournament.

  11. ZW

    February 27, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    undrafted’s talking points came again this morning!

  12. Soccer Guru

    February 27, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    By how many American teams I meant how many MLS teams! 4 vs 1.

  13. Soccer Guru

    February 27, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Hey undrafted:

    How many Mexican teams made it out of the group stage?

    How many American teams?

    I’ve been bashed by eurotrash and eurosnob fans here for following a league that is been shown up by its own second division.

    MLS should be embarrassed!

  14. undrafted

    February 27, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    What questions does this raise about the Mexican league’s competitiveness?

    USL >>>>>> MFL


    Clubs like Aston Villa and Tottenham just put out reserve lineups in order to crash out of the UEFA Cup. This event isn’t a big deal just because Jack Warner says so. Europe doesn’t care if we win this thing or not. Almost noone there will report on it anyways.

    news about 5th tier clubs
    they report
    CONCACAF, not so much

  15. J H

    February 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

    MLS lives in a vacuum as far as these results are concerned. When they lose they’ll point to the fixture congestion or pre-season excuses while USL, thankful to finally be accorded an opportunity to qualify teams through the Canadian Cup, US Open Cup and Caribbean Club Cup are taking full advantage.

    I’m pro MLS, but in dealings like the Becks matter we cannot stand up and say “we matter” when in fact we don’t really matter.

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