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 Examiner.com 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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