It’s made for TV. It’s on at weird times. It inevitably means that DC will play Chivas. It’s the Superliga, America’s favorite made-for-TV money grab that has occasional moment of compelling action. It gets underway this weekend, here are my thoughts on the clubs involved. Today we discuss Group A.
Atlante – This not very big club from Cancun won the 2007 Apertura then got absolutely plundered by other clubs, losing much of its top talent and finishing 15th in the following Clausura season. Venezuelan international Giancarlo Maldonado remains there from the title run, but otherwise this is a fairly anonymous group. Beyond Maldonado, Atlante’s squad has a grand total of five international appearances between them.
Chivas Guadalajara – The Goats enter Superliga on heels of a Clausura season where they finished first in the regular season but were shocked in the playoff quarterfinals by Monterrey with an 8-5 aggregate score. Most of the big names like Santana, Pineda, Magallon, Morales and Medina return, but Omar Bravo and Adolfo “El Bofo” Bautista have left, ending up in La Coruna and Chiapas respectively. Easily the favorites in this group with their first team, a lot depends on players coach Efraín Flores selects and how seriously he decides to take this tournament.
DC United – By far the hottest team going into this tournament, United hasn’t lost once in the last eight matches (all competitions) and only drawn once in that span. Luciano Emilio has found his scoring touch and Marcelo Gallardo appears to finally be gelling in with the rest of the squad. Of course, the defense and goalkeeper Zach Wells are as steady as a coked-up tourettes sufferer playing Jenga. Is United’s fire wagon attack and weak noodle defense enough to get it through to the knockout phase? That will depend a lot on this next team.
Houston Dynamo – Houston is slumping big time and is winless in its last five matches, only scoring two goals in the process. They look very undermanned but playing in the very mediocre Western Conference, they can still probably afford to take the Superliga seriously without jeopardizing their MLS playoff chances. I have a hard time seeing them get out of this group, especially have to play DC away and likely play Chivas in front of a very loud, very pro-Chivas crowd in Houston.
Prediction: Chivas and DC United advance to knockout round.