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Leagues: Liga MX

FMF Final Entertains American Footy Fans


Last night’s first leg of the FMF Apertura Final was an incredibly entertaining affair. Monterrey behind Humberto Suazo, one of the top strikers in COMNEBOL came from behind to beat Cruz Azul 4-3. The second leg is Sunday, in Mexico City.

Suazo, who led COMNEBOL World Cup Qualifying in goals scored, could be one of the stars of next summer’s World Cup. Chile arguably was playing some of the best football in the world towards the end of qualifying, and Suazo was a key figure in these performances.

I personally, have been an advocate for the quality and entertainment value of Mexican football, but have felt sometimes isolated and guilty for this view. After all, the FMF, perhaps rightly is seen as the “rival” league by many MLS supporters, and also is the domestic league of the national team many Americans dislike the most.

Often times these biases have led to a lack of coverage for the league, which is after all far and away the most popular on American soil. Because of precisely who I follow on Twitter (the majority of my twitter friends are American soccer fans), I thought that only a few people including myself and MLS Talk/1560 AM’s Brian Zygo would be tweeting about the final. How wrong I was.

Several of the normal American soccer followers that tweet during EPL, Champions League or USMNT matches were out in full force last night. Interestingly, many of the MLS-centric fans that don’t tweet during EPL matches or other European football related events were absent.

The best tweet of the night came from the always irresistible Zach Woolsey of Ginge Talks the Footy Fame. Zach tweeted in the 80th minute of the match, “I’m tired and I wanna go to bed but this match is too entertaining!” His tweet summed up what a number of us were feeling. This wasn’t a match to finish on the DVR: it was just too good to miss live.

Last night’s match appears to have been a watershed event. Hard core English language dominant American footy fans these days are always on the lookout for entertaining football. After the match, my fellow Set Piece Analyst, Richard Farley, who covers the FMF for and I discussed this phenomenon on Twitter.

Mexican Football, despite a language barrier is incredibly accessible to the American viewer seeking live football on TV. Most of the big games are available on over the air channels in large parts of the nation: for example in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale market, we get a minimum of 4 live  over the air games every weekend, between Azteca America, Telemundo and Telefutura. This is supplemented by several matches on cable channels Galavision, ESPN Deportes, and Fox Sports in Espanol. Between broadcast and cable, almost every FMF Primera Division matchup is shown live.

South Florida is actually geographically closer to many FMF cities than to the closest MLS team. So perhaps impressions in this market are skewed, but recently I have noticed an upward trend of Mexican Football viewership among non Latino/Hispanics.

This year, I have noticed more of my non-Latino/Hispanic friends who follow European football have begun to watch the FMF in selected spots. They are by no means regular viewers, but they do have a passing awareness of what is going on in the league, and will tune in for the big occasions. Some of these people, despite being huge USMNT fans, do not bother with MLS.

Ultimately, this may be a good thing for Major League Soccer. The association between MLS and the FMF was designed to win new fans for the domestic game. Perhaps, the FMF can serve as the gateway league to turn European footy fans into MLS fans.

Or perhaps, the quality of football is so much higher in the FMF than in the MLS, that some may take an even dimmer view of MLS? One thing is for sure: Mexican Football is winning over converts among previously non followers in the United States.


-Two days ago, I broke the news that USL had sued Rochester, Tampa Bay and Crystal Palace USA for breach of contract over at my personal site. The fallout from this action has been immense and public opinion which was already swinging heavily towards the TOA/NASL, now seems rock solid and heavily skewed. But the USSF doesn’t make sanctioning decisions based on public sentiment but on legalities and established guidelines. Regardless of whether the NASL is sanctioned or not, this “soccer war” has left a stain on supporters all over the country. The damage, I fear has been done to the USL brand with lots of message board and blog posters claiming they are done with domestic football thanks to this drama, and now will focus on European Football. Let us hope they are simply a small, but vocal minority of overall soccer fans in the US.

FIFA may have the final say as they have an established policy of not looking kindly on lawsuits filed in the domestic court system and not in the international Court for Arbitration on Sport.

-Tony Adams appears poised to be named manager of Red Bull New York. One of the worst managers in the recent history of the Premier League, Adams will be looking to rehabilitate his image much like Claude Anelka is seeking to do by taking the new AC St Louis (NASL) job.

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  1. Memo

    December 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I love the FMF and I’ve been watching for years. What I really like about it are the numerous top notch South American players in the league. Every team is allowed 5 foreigners excluding naturalized Mexicans like Matias Vuoso (Argentina), Leandro Augusto (Brazil) and Miquel Calero (Colombia). These players are well paid and get a lot of playing time so frequently 10 of the 22 players on the field are South Americans. Of the 7 goals scored in the game between Monterrey and Cruz Azul, six were scored by South Americans, two by Chilean Suazo, two by Paraguayan Riveros and two by Argentinian Villa.

  2. Bolacuadrada

    December 11, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Thanks Charles for that link. Even though the link is broken I was able to find the article under the title “Brazil’s D-Day: Drama in the Maracana” from Ernesto Garrido. I am a Sao Paulo follower but I am happy for the millions of Mengao fans. Many of them waited three days in line for a limited number of tickets. It is great to see that their passion for their team was finally rewarded. What a way to support their team!

  3. dan

    December 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    ill support the MLS and NASL, I will also support what is left of the USL. I think what Eurosnobs and South/CentralAmersnobs need to understad is that it is ok akay support other leagues but all Americans who Love soccer need to start supporting there home grown teams so that we can afford to keep our star players here.

  4. short passes

    December 11, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    This discussion of the CONCACAF leagues prompted this thought regarding the player content of the various major leagues: Mexican league — primarily home grown, few from other countries in this hemisphere; MLS — likewise; EPL — primarily foreign !!!!!!
    The EPL is a global league that the English have only a tentative claim on.

  5. Charles

    December 11, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    It is amazing how little press there is for the Club World Cup.
    Maybe because Europe has lost it more than they have won it ?

    A little off subject but there was a great article in ESPN about the Brazilian champions.

  6. Andres

    December 11, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    By the way, GO DC UNITED!!!

  7. Andres

    December 11, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I am a supporter of La Roja and follow a number of leagues, including those from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, England, Germany, Mexico, and Spain. I agree wholeheartedly with Adam, and like to take his point further. All of the American confederations should see themselves as partners and collaborate more to raise the competitiveness and quality of their respective leagues. UEFA, CAF, and the rest are our real competitors.

    Atlante and Estudiantes de la Plata are representing us at the FIFA Club World Cup. One of our own should bring the WC home next year, hopefully one of the underdogs. It’s not just about the glory or the status, it’s about the competition and resources. The Mexican, Argentinian, Brazilian, and U.S. leagues should have nothing to envy the EPL, Primera, or Bundesliga.


  8. Charles

    December 11, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Hopefully someday soon the MLS will challenge the Central American teams in the CCL, much like the National team did in CONCACAF.

    MLS is counting on people named Manuel to watch. When Garber talked with fans from every team in Seattle last month, over his shoulder a huge Copa MLS 09, in much smaller writing MLS Cup ’09 was visable, but not front and center. Ditto for the game, we counted more Copa MLS, than MLS Cup adverts.

  9. short passes

    December 11, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I have watched Mexican league games for over 20 years. My dream has been for the US to develop a national style that combined the best of Mexican skils with US athleticism and organization. Unfortunately, I firmly believe that the soccer COACHING establishment sees Mexican/Hispanic football as a threat not as a partner.

  10. Manuel

    December 11, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I’m happy to hear that non-Latinos are watching the Primera and are being entertained by the action on the pitch. As a Santos Laguna supporter and a Mexican American I never imagined that non-Mexicans would be interested in the league. I figured many would simply ignore it in favor of watching the European teams or the MLS. Here in Southern California it’s easy to see that the league is closely followed as you see many America or Chivas jerseys being worn or hanging on a store rack. And although I truly enjoy watching EPL top 4, Barcelona vs. Real Madrid and driving to Home Depot Center for an occasional Galaxy match, none could replace the Primera for me.

  11. NASL Fan

    December 11, 2009 at 10:58 am

    I think that all the fans are siding with the NASL and will continue to strongly support domestic soccer. NuRock has been the problem. The TOA were responsible for the high quality the USL had before being bought by NuRock.

    NASL fans know what to expect from the TOA. They have also seen what NuRock has done with soccer since taking over the USL. Its a no brainer.

    go NASL! go USSF! go USA!

  12. adam

    December 11, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Eurosnob response:

    “How can Suazo be a star in the World Cup, he does not play in Europe!”

    hint, hint Kartik on Donovan. He will be a star next summer and does not need to play in Europe to prove anything!

  13. adam

    December 11, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Good piece.

    I prefer the FMF to the Euro trash leagues because they actually enhance MLS and work with MLS. If some of the eurosnobs are watching Mexican Soccer, they will ultimately encounter MLS thanks to interliga, superliga and concacaf.

    FMF and MLS are very much partners, while the EPL and UEFA are competition that hurts the domestic game. More posts like this would be good Kartik. Convince the eurosnobs that they are missing something in this hemisphere!

    • vic

      December 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm

      Exactamundo. Its that interrelated connection to MLS that draws me to FMF. Great series between Cruz Azul & Monterrey. I hope Suazo doesnt go to Europe. It seems like MLS & FMF have their work cut out for them to keep top talent from heading to Europe in Jan. Anyway, hopefully these two teams, as well as Sea, LA, Columbus, & RSL, will keep their skilled players and add some to spice up the Concacaf CL next year. That tournament needs to kick it up a notch in excitement, ratings, viewership, etc.

  14. BayVol

    December 11, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Couldn’t agree more Kartik. The FMF is one of the leagues I follow the most. The relationship it has with MLS certainly helps and gives many American fans a look at teams they might not see otherwise (CCL, and Superliga). When the Houston Dynamo played Pachuca for the first time a number of years back that opened my eyes to that league and now have watched many other teams on a consistent basis. Enjoying other football leagues in conjunction with MLS is a good thing…pure and simple.

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