Is the CONCACAF Champions League a failure?

Tom over at Pitch Invasion has asked today whether the CONCACAF Champions League is a failure. He chose to focus on the “on-the-field” implications.

I would question the assertion that the CCL is making more money now. Is it? And who is it making more for? While it looks like CONCACAF was able to sell the tournament to TV companies (especially ESPN Latin American) and to advertisers (State Farm, T-Mobile, etc), I wonder how much value this tournament is actually providing to those advertisers and broadcasters. Clearly, it’s barely making a bump amongst American soccer fans. But, I wonder how much of a financial impact the tournament is really making in Mexico? I would love for someone more familiar with the domestic environment there like John, to let me know just how much Mexico really cares about the tournament. Are people watching the games on TV? Is the media treating the tournament like a “Champions League?”

Maybe, as long as Mexican clubs are winning, the interest will stay high. There are certainly numerous examples of international sporting events that, while including Americans as major participants, do not require American money or sustained interest to succeed financially. But every time I flip on a match on FSC and see tons of empty seats in an American stadium or every time I walk through a nearly-deserted State Farm marketing pavillion outside RFK before a CCL match, I wonder just who, other than CONCACAF’s usual corrupt flunkies, are making much out of this event. Are smaller clubs in Central America or the Carribbean making anything out of it? If so, that’s great, but I am not sure the sponsorship that a tournament like this demands will be sustainable.

I’ve always been very “bearish” on the CCL as they decided to construct it. I agreed with the sentiment to make CONCACAF’s “tournament of champions” a less jokey tournament. CONCACAF’s efforts to legitmize the Gold Cup (no entries for Brazil or Korea, for example) have done that tournament a lot of good and made it appointment viewing when the tournament doesn’t come during World Cup Qualifying. But the Champions League is a much more difficult enterprise.

Why can’t CONCACAF hold a “European-style” Champions League? For one, the difference in calendars between all the different leagues in play make it very difficult to find a time where at least one set of teams isn’t either in preseason, or coming down to the end of a grinding regular season. Once you remove the impossible option of MLS moving to a “standard calendar,” (and yes, it’s impossible in the short-to-medium term), it makes legitimizing this event very difficult.

Of course there is also the secondary issue of this tournament being very difficult to market in many MLS markets and one that, as long as MLS maintains its salary cap and low roster numbers, that MLS clubs will find very difficult to win.

While I don’t want to rush into calling the CCL a failure, when has it ever produced the interest or excitement that the re-tooled Gold Cup has produced? The answer is, never. It just hasn’t.

What would I do? I would return it to a smaller single-tournament, single-site format, perhaps lasting a full week rather than just a weekend. I’d also think long and hard about putting the tournament at Red Bull Park every year. It would be a chance for CONCACAF to glom off the NY media spotlight for a week and might serve to give a tournament the feel of a bigger event.


67 thoughts on “Is the CONCACAF Champions League a failure?

  1. I wouldn’t blame the salary cup. It’s not about money. We’ve seen teams with much lower salaries manage to be competitive in Copa Libertadores.

    If the MLS wants its clubs to be competitive, they need to produce more talent and play better soccer. And of course, as you mentioned, they need to take their international commitments more seriously, and adjust their soccer calendar to that of the rest of the world.

  2. There isnt a calendar the rest of the world conforms to. There isnt even a calendar the rest of CONCACAF conforms to.

  3. From what I’ve seen with comments from the Concacaf board here and on mediotiempo, most Mexican fans would agree that the tournament “just started” for them, now that all the inferior teams from the rest of the region have been escorted out. And to be honest, if it weren’t for Saprissa and Alajuelense, Mexican teams would have had a decade of uninterrupted domination.

    But even though I understand why you would focus on how American and Mexican fans receive the tournament, Aaron, I would argue that both you and Tom are missing the “bigger picture.” Frankly, everyone in the region BUT the US and Mexico (outside of the CWC spot on offer) has definitely come around to appreciating the tournament (before you respond with attendance, I’d ask you to compare it with their average in their own league), and they would rather have the expanded version as is.

  4. Seeing as how most Central American leagues follow Apetura and Clausura tournaments, the most logical time to have a shortened version of a CCL would be in early January when Interliga is played.

    MLS teams who typically qualify, i.e., playoff teams, are playing well into November, so they wouldn’t be that far from form (and could use a short break.)

    That means SUM wouldn’t have Interliga anymore, but aren’t most Mexican teams not fond of the competition anyway?

  5. I thought Interliga was a backdoor into Libertadores. Anyway, if the clubs aren’t into it, their US-based fans definitely are. The 2008 final between America and Cruz Azul was freaking legendary.

  6. Fail.

    I suggest you check the schedules of other leagues around the world…you’ll find they are different….

  7. In addition to what usafan12 pointed out about the value of the tournament in places other than the US and Mexico, I’d also like to add the following in defence of the CCL:

    1) I (for one, and I’m sure I’m not the only person) didn’t even know the CCC even existed. With the Champions League, MLS teams may have trouble advancing, but at least we hear about it.

    2) Playing the best teams in the region is the only way to get better. If we wait until the strength of CONCACAF rises to the level of the Mexican League teams, we will be waiting indefinately.

    3) Any format for this tournament will have problems until the event finds it’s legs. If we let the CCL get on solid footing now by playing it out, the event will build on itself and be a better tournament in the future.

    4) As for MLS fans seemingly not caring, as everyone has pointed out with the whole “possible MLS replacement players” rumor, only perhaps 20%~25% of the MLS fanbase are hardcore soccer fans, which means only 20%~25% of the fanbase inherently “gets” the importance of international club play. Give it time for the event to grow on the rest of the fanbase, and the problem will largely solve itself.

  8. I’m of the opinion that the negatives outweigh the positives when it comes to MLS teams in the CCL. Yeah, I see the point about playing international teams helping you improve, but that implies that the average MLS team is some kind of diamond-in-the-rough that just needs its ass kicked by Toluca a few times to become really good. I don’t buy it.

    Plus, the time frame is nothing but bad. The group stages come during the playoff push; the elimination round starts during the preseason.

    Essentially, this tournament seems almost designed to frustrate MLS teams. And it plays to nearly empty stadiums. Sorry, I just can’t get excited about the thing. If a team I like gets in, all I hope is that no one gets hurts and that it doesn’t distract them from league play.

  9. I used to think that the CCL would be a vast improvement over the old CCC because the matches would be played during MLS’s regular season instead of the preseason. How wrong I was. The performances of most MLS teams in the CCL have been nothing short of abysmal.

    A healthy preseason form MLS team is actually better than a banged-up midseason form one struggling to play through a densely packed schedule with a threadbare squad. It’s not that the MLS teams don’t care about the tournament, it’s that they don’t have the roster depth to be able to play twice a week for weeks on end without everything coming apart. When an MLS team has to prioritize between qualifying for MLS Cup playoffs or staying alive in the CCL, it will choose the playoff race every time.

    Just because MLS teams have underperformed doesn’t mean the tournament itself is a failure. However, I don’t see much excitement for the matches here and it seems that the only way to draw a crowd in Mexico is to give away tickets. The crucial question is what the TV ratings are. I got the impression from a DC staffer last year that the international ratings had not been up to expectations. If true, the future of the tournament may hinge on what happens when the TV rights are renewed.

  10. I follow it and think its a good tournament and wish there was more interest in Mexico and the US. For me, the best thing about soccer is watching teams from different countries play each other. The difference in quality in the MLS and Mexico teams is small – biggest MLS problem is squad size for this tournmanent. I like the format. Making it like the European and other Champions Leagues is a good idea – legitimizes the area’s soccer. Maybe make the quarterfinals in the spring so the remaining MLS team(s) are warmed up.

    As far as crowds, maybe once the MLS teams give Mexican teams good competition, there would be bigger crowds in Mexico. I see fairly big crowds when teams in Panama and Hondurus play Mexico or MLS. If Columbus beat Toluca in the first leg, there may have been a lot more Mexican fans at the Toluca 2nd leg.

    With the MLS teams, I think the problem is preparation and performance. Its hard to watch the MLS CL games because the MLS teams aren’t prepared. I think that is the problem with the crowds. People go to MLS Superliga games-at those games, its mid season, and MLS teams play very hard and are well prepared. Also, MLS needs to figure out how to compete in games in Mexico.

  11. I don’t think the CCL will really see a ton of revenue or “success” until an MLS team does really well. What was the Mexico vs. USA rivalry before we started beating them with some consistency? It didn’t really exist..not on the scale it does now anyway. Same with CCL I think. Once it turns into a fairly even slugfest between MLS, FMF and the other few powerhouse CONCACAF clubs I think it will skyrocket in popularity and revenue. Two years I think. The American Populous may never pay attention, but everyone else in the region will.

  12. lol..are you female soccerfan68?

    EDIT for clarity – just a joke as we were thinking and posting the same thing at the same time..

  13. Um, how is the gap small? There’s a tournament designed to give MLS all the advantages, the Superliga… Even there, pre-season MFL teams playing all away games have a 50% succes rate. The last Champion, Tigres, played with only sub-20s for half the tournament. And Tigres is one of the weakest MFL teams.

  14. If the best teams of the tournie are there, how is it a Failure?

    We all know what to expect from this region! It’s a weak tournament for a weak region. That being said, I think it’s a great eye-opener for all those who put MLS on a pedestal when comparing with other CONCACAF leagues.

    Only a couple teams from Central America can actually give out a A Team vs A Team fight against Mexican Clubs, and these rarely appear.

    Toluca, Pachuca, Cruz Azul & Pumas are NOT the best Mexican Clubs right now… still they came and conquered all the weaklings they played against.

    Like I said, from day 1 we all knew what to expect of this tournament. Years after constant MLS fails you come and give out the excuse that the tournie is the failure? Please.

  15. I don’t know what the answer to the first question is. But assuming it’s “yes,” then we all know the answer to the second question.

  16. different leagues play at different times, that is just life. celtic played (and won) a champs league play-in in the middle of their off-season against a Russian team who were in mid-season form.

  17. Did you actually bother to *read* the blog post? If you had, you’d have seen that he’s judging whether it’s a failure or a success by 1) whether it’s making money for everyone involved, and 2) whether it’s drumming up lots of fan support. He’s claiming it may be a failure not because MLS teams aren’t doing well in it, but because the answers to #1 and #2 may be “no.”

    I know it’s hard to for you pass up an opportunity to ridicule us and our pathetic little league; but if you’re going to do so, you might as well make the effort to ridicule us on what’s actually said, rather than a bunch of stuff that wasn’t said.


  18. There is no interest from MLS fans because MLS teams aren’t getting it done.

    If MLS teams started to hold their own then in my opinion it would start accelerating interest.

    MLS can go ahead and drop out of the tourney if they wish though, and at the same time, get passed by in play quality by the rest of the region that decided to keep playing each other.

  19. If this were the case, I wouldn’t have any objection to their analysis. But the question, as they have posed it, is more like this:

    2) whether it’s drumming up lots of fan support in the US and Mexico.

    BTW, if CONCACAF wanted to get higher attendance or fan support for the tournament, there’s a simple solution: take the US’s two automatic spots and hand them to Canada. Completely indefensible on any sporting ground, but 20k fans in seats for games would at least look better.

  20. The addition of the group stage has been a large FAIL in my opinion. Part if that is due to the lack of true depth on the MLS rosters but games on crappy fields with crappy refs with no one in the stands gives this tournament a poor feel.

    And honestly, the prize money is not that great for MLS squads, especially if they have to take losses at the gate at home when 3,500 show up at 9:00 on a Wed. night. Yes, if you win the whole thing, you go to the CWC and get a big paycheck. But for MLS squads (and Brian Ching pretty much tweeted this last year), Superliga is more of a realistic financial reward for them and only requires 3-5 games played mostly at home.

    It’s almost a penalty for MLS squads to qualify for the CCL and play the group stage in August and September.

    It sounds neat, like the UEFA Champions League on our continent. But I think in reality it is more like one of those silly product inventions like peanut butter and jelly in the same jar or purple ketchup – sounds cool but just tastes odd.

  21. Dissection time…

    First of all, if refs were such a turn-off, then MLS wouldn’t have any fans (e.g. not a single MLS ref qualifying for the World Cup). As for the fields, Rod Carew Stadium is fortunately no longer in use, and the Saprissa is apparently good enough for FIFA, so oh well. But I distinctly remember a UEFA Champions League game between Chelsea and Barcelona at Stamford Bridge (the one where del Horno got sent off and the visitors won 2-1), in which the field was in such a horrible condition that Derek Rae referred to it as a “potato patch.” Now, I’m sure viewers tuned in, called the field “bush league” and tuned out just for that, right? As for “no one in the stands”, again I return to my earlier argument: compare the attendances at venues in Central America and Trinidad and Tobago (just to pick an example in the Caribbean) to what they normally get on matchdays in their own league.

    But if anything, the group stage gives the tournament a much greater presence in the region than the old CCC, and that’s a victory in and of itself. Now every team that makes it to the group stage has at the very least three home games, reinforcing among fans the idea that regional competition exists (that is not the same as convincing them that it matters, yes, but that step comes with time). And that’s true even within MLS; before, playing in the CCC was the reserve of DC, Houston, and/or whichever team had won the MLS Cup or the Supporter’s Shield, and that would entail playing preseason games that could easily fly under the radar. Now, though, 3-5 teams get to play every year, thus spreading out the experience of being in the tournament. And as for the “poor feel”, I don’t know if you mean on its own or in comparison with the Champions League or Libertadores, but in either case, the same answer: give it time. If I’m not mistaken, World Cup 1930 wasn’t exactly rocking in terms of attendance either.

    So I look up at Canada, and I see that every home game that they have had up until now in the CCL has had attendances of around 13,000 (not including the 20k for TFC’s game, or 55k for Montreal’s Quarterfinal first-leg last year). So, why do they have more people show up? Is it because Canadians don’t have anything better to do on weeknights (doubt it)? Is it because they innately “care” more about international competition (I’m not going with this angle)? Or is it simply because they actually bother to market the game? I’m just saying, to a certain extent, MLS teams lining up such low numbers is their own fault – btw, I’m pretty sure that New York’s game against W Connection was the only game on US soil this year that had 3,500 or less fans – that and possibly the Columbus-Saprissa matchup.

    That’s a fair point, and I’ll leave dissecting the rotting fish that is CONCACAF finances to Bill, but again, this is a tournament in which the confederation has to subsidize travel for away teams.

    This is something that MLS itself could easily alleviate with some rule changes to help out their teams playing in international competition (more roster spots/compensation). Then again, if they don’t, then isn’t this another way to help keep up the parity of the league? That way, teams that are good enough to take CCL spots are too tired to do it again, thereby helping to “spread the wealth.”

    The first World Cup was odd, and the first few years of the European Cup (Real Madrid winning every single time, while some countries like the Netherlands and Germany barely or didn’t have professional teams to enter in the competition) were odd, but they kept playing and it kept growing into the juggernaut the Champions League is today. Not saying that the CCL will ever get to that level, but that it can grow to be something of importance for us with time.

  22. Mexican teams playing their reserves (with some bench players) against Arabe Unido, W Connection or DC United… sounds pretty attractive for Mexican fans… Isn’t?

    For us is just a joke, if were for the fans… we would choose keep playing Copa Sudamericana insteand this tourney, but well, CWC is a juicy prize after all.

  23. This tournament is a decade or more from being relevant in the US, and it may never be relevant. Houston tried to market these games and no one will show up for the group stage unless they are playing a Mexican team. I’m not sure where to start, but playing a club team from Panama on a rainy midweek night in September in front of 3,000 fans is not what a legendary tourney is made of.

    Blunt reality is that most MLS ticket buyers don’t care. BigSoccer and hardcores care, vast majority who attend MLS games don’t. Dynamo sent us a survey basically asking us if we would buy tickets to the group stages in 2008 (not in season tickets) because they were trying to figure out if they should move the games to a smaller venue.

    I bet 50% of all season ticket holders didn’t buy or just ate their CCL tickets last year. Which means that they were effectively paying not to go to the games. And the Dynamo FO pushed these games, didn’t just throw them on the calendar but tried to market them and there’s no response.

    It’s a tired argument to pin the lack of ticket sales on these games on marketing – the front offices have figured out that the best you can do on these games is breakeven so why put more money at risk blowing it on print and radio ads to an audience that doesn’t care?

  24. This tournament is a joke. The team that wins this tourney doesn’t deserve to go to the Club World Cup. It was embarassing to see a club like Atlante, who were at the bottom of the table in Clausura 09, go and represent MEXICO, and the CONCACAF last year for the World Cup.

    And i don’t think its fair for other mexican clubs like chivas who have the balls to play in a real tournament, (libertadores) not have the chance to better represent CONCACAF.

    If a concacaf club were ever to win Libertadores, they wouldnt be allowed to go to the club world cup. Can you believe that!

    CCL is a joke, the mexican club teams be using their reserves. Which is a nice opportunity for young talent to arise. But almost all these games turn out like “cascaritas” for the Mexicans..

  25. Taking the Houston vs. Panama team example…

    Houston vs. San Francisco, 2008 – 4,178

    Houston vs. Arabe Unido, 2009 – 6,938

  26. Whoa, whoa, whoa, Chivas fan – leaving CCL talk aside, I have to toast you for this one.

    So, the reason that Atlante got to go to the Club World Cup and Chivas hasn’t is…survey says:

    [ame=””]YouTube- Pachuca 7 – Chivas 6 Final Campeones De Concacaf 2007[/ame]

    Atlante’s actually won a continental trophy in the last five years! You guys had your chance against Pachuca but you blew it, and and you haven’t been to a Mexican league final since.

  27. Should the CCL have 4 Mexican teams? I know that it is all about $. Ooooh why bother use logic and integrity when we are talking about Jack Warner.

  28. I have an idea on this CCL thing. let every region have their own tournament to qualify. Central america can send 2 teams from a group stage. Every CA champion would be put in a group and they play each other for points. carribean as well. mexico’s 2 champions(clausura, apertura) to the knockout stage, usa champion as well, and 1 canadian team(nutracup) to knockout.

    that’s 8 teams that go into a knockout phase. quarter finals randomly drawn. home and away. the winner goes to Club world cup.

    this format reduces the amount of games played. the current schedule is just to long for this region. the only teams that would be qualifying to get in are the central am, carribean, and canadian ones. mexico and US would automatically qualify for the quarter finals.

    reducing the games would make things more meaningful to the fans. a long CL campaign makes sense in europe(i still think too many teams get in) but here it’s just to painful.

    some of you might not agree with US automatically getting into knockouts but it just to give them a chance. same with canada sending a team. i think they suck but they deserve a chance to prove themselves.
    anyway, what do you guys think?

  29. That was the old format look up the champions Cup

    the Caribbean have their digicel cup their way of sending champions hasnt changed. for the CCC and CCL

    Central America with their now defunct UNCAF Copa Inter clubes would send three

    then their was Mexico and the US each Sending 2

    Everyone except the Mexican and MLS teams would play it out in their regional tournaments.

  30. Why is it when it comes to regional issues all Mexican fans take it as if were attacking the LMF. Read the post dude its about the success with sponsors and tv rights. Look we get it the Mexican League (and ill bold it For you)IS THE BEST LEAGUE IN CONCACAF.

    We know MLS isn’t as Good were not even talking about that. and f@#k yeah i hold my league on a pedistole its my league with teams i watch. are we not supposed to be fans or something? You sure as hell do for your league.

  31. I would say it’s a failure because I can’t go to the store and buy Panini CONCACAF Champions League “Adrenalyn” cards.

  32. The tournament is a failure, not because MLS teams are losers or because Mexican teams always win.

    The tournament is a failure because many of the teams don’t belong on the field. You think 3,500 is a small crowd? Those crowds are normal for Caribbean and some CA teams.

  33. How so? (just in case the tone didn’t come out well: I do want to hear you out) Yes, it’s true that FIFA has quotas of referees by region rather than choosing the 30 best regardless of origin, but if within CONCACAF, MLS doesn’t have a single referee that is better and more experienced (or more established, as the case may be) than, say, Joel Aguilar, then our standard isn’t all that different from what we see throughout CONCACAF. Just that our referees are more used to what “flies” in American soccer.

    Point is, I don’t see why refereeing would be such a major turn off. If anything, if that were the case, then Chelsea fans would have boycotted continental play by now.

  34. For two reasons. The first, which you essentially refer to above, is that the language construct you used (“not a single ref”) implies that if the quality of USSF referees were reasonable, we’d get more than one. That language construct is an abridged version of “just one would be bad enough; but we didn’t even send one.” In actuality, we only could have sent one. The difference between one and none is not as large as an ad hominem like “not a single ref” suggests.

    The second reason is that the referee from the USSF who was a finalist to go ended up being effectively removed from consideration not by FIFA, but by USSF, and for reasons that were driven by actions *off the pitch*.

    Please don’t misunderstand me — I’m the last person you’ll see mounting a passionate defense of the standard of refereeing in MLS. I just don’t think this *specific* attack was a valid one.

  35. I understand, and thanks for the correction.

    Quick question: “off-the-pitch actions” wouldn’t be shorthand for accepting jerseys from players, would it?

  36. As it was put to me a few months ago by someone in a behind-the-scenes position to know, “that was really stupid.”

  37. 2009 – part of season ticket package

    2008 – tickets not part of season package, offered on a discounted basis to STH.

    I’ve got the stubs in my STH booklet.

    There may have been 3,000 at the Arabe Unido game. Maybe.

  38. Then just for comparison: were there more people at Houston’s home games against Puntarenas or Municipal in the old CCC?

  39. Municipal, it was part of the STH package in 2008 and Puntarenas in 2007 was played at Texas A&M. I think they drew about 10,000 for Saprissa in 2008 in a game that was not part of the season ticket package.

  40. Agree, the tourney looks a little foolish with the Mexicans always romping. Can’t blame them, and pretend they aren’t the dominant regional power by just scrapping this tournament. I really think MLS would go a long way to convincing potential Latino fans the league is legit by doing better in this competition. Personally, I’d rather pay to see a CCL game, rather than a routine, regular season game. Just like the idea of the league being connected with the rest of the region’s soccer leagues. Is it perfect? No. Should it simply be scrapped? An empathic no!

  41. I thought the ’98 version, with the semi’s and finals (and quarters?) at RFK was terrrific!! Once they moved to Vegas (gee, I wonder why) it’s been downhill from there.

  42. I think i’ve figured out this “blogging” thing. Put up some banner ads. Post something completely idiotic.. err.. “controversial”. Wait for the influx of traffic.

    I hope Tom over at pitch invasion gets all his fingers cut off in the dispos-all.

  43. MLS teams that qualify for the CCL need to receive increased roster size (even if just 1-2 players) and a corresponding cap increase for that season. Teams should also be rewarded for doing well in the competition in a similar manner.

  44. I can see its a failure by the empty stadiums on the telecasts. Games in Mexico are not full either. I highly doubt the tv ratings are so far ahead of the attendance.

    Well, besides that I don’t know how to make this comparison, it’s irrelevant because there are still not enough fans to make it financially successful.

    But Westside Cosmo has it right. The group stage is the problem. Having too many games exacerbates the fundamental problems of bad teams, refs, and scheduling. So skip the group stage and go back to a knockout tournament.

    About the ref’ing.. The Houston at Arabe Unido game’s officiating was so disgusting I stopped watching CCL for a while. But it’s not the main issue.

  45. correct me if i’m wrong but isn’t Russia’s Premier League on the same calendar as MLS? And isn’t CSKA Moscow now in the round of 8 in the Uefa Champions League? MLS needs to take this competition seriously and use it to scout upstart Latin-talent to bring to MLS.

  46. I like the Concachampions as it is now. It can only make the whole region stronger. There will come a day when the Comunicaciones and Motaguas of the world will field team strong enough to challenge the MFL.

    It only makes sense now that the Mexican teams dominate. They have the infrastructure and the war chest to field good teams. But just like the rest of the world caught up to the USA in Basketball, the rest of CONCACAF will catch up as well. It won’t be immediate, but it will happen. It is already happening on the national team level.

    And we can rest assured that the improvement will be expedited by the extreme arrogance of the Mexican clubs who will see the rest of the region improve while they continue to send reserve squads to the tournament.

  47. why not just scout good talent im latino but i just want to see good players. Now if you would have said scout more local latin talent id agree, but really thats a whole other issue.

  48. The strength of the tournament is weak. To be honest, it’s Mexican clubs playing reserve sides, and dominating, for 80% of it. They only seem to send out their best against each other in the knock-out stages.

    IMO, until that changes, the tournament will be a farce in the eyes of most that follow the sport in the region. If CONCACAF had a healthy rotation of “which league is the best?”, the tournament would flourish.

    Basically, until the MLS and another league’s (say the Costa Rican Primera) reps are at the point where Mexican clubs can’t win at leisure, the tournament will be an afterthought to many.

  49. Give it time. Real Madrid won the first five UEFA Champions Cups, and Spanish clubs were in the first seven finals, at a time when only one team from each country competed. The competition wasn’t a failure because of it.

  50. I know people keep saying it, but I think it is the most salient point in the discussion: give it time. There is not one tourney I know of that started off perfect. I think (hope?) that 15 years from now we’ll be laughing at the shaky start and really enjoying the CCL spectacle. I certainly know that I enjoy it very much. The Santos Laguna-Montreal Impact two-leg series was incredible, in my opinion.

    Second (minor) point: Even UEFA CCL is just some English team versus some Spanish team… When do the Dutch or Portuguese ever win it? What chance does an Irish team or a Swiss team have in the tourney. I don’t think that certain leagues dominating means the tourney is not worthwhile.

  51. Well, there is a difference between a competition where 3 or 4 leagues share dominance and play their best players, and a competition in which one league clearly takes a dump on it, plays reserves the majority of the time, and still wins.


    We’ll have to see how much of an effect this has, but at least now we know that MLS is in fact giving out bonuses for wins in international competition, so hopefully the teams playing in next year’s version will have the incentive to play better.

    And for those mentioning the stadium turnouts, two things: first, to an extent that argument cherry-picks examples, because for every SJ Jabloteh closed-door exhibition, there are considerable tournaments in Guatemala, Honduras and Canada. Secondly, in the short-term CONCACAF can always subsidize the Champions League with revenue from its biennial Gold Cups.

  53. When it comes to soccer there are all things UEFA and the World Cup. Nothing else is on that level of interest, or excitement.

  54. I don’t think the tournament is a failure b/c MLS clubs cannot win it. I suspect the problem is that the only time people care is when MLS clubs play Mexican teams. Crew vs. Toluca game was entertaining. If I lived anywhere near it (and my wife wasn’t about to give birth, I’d go to the game in a heartbeat.

    I think that if US was playing more storied clubs from So. America, the attendance would be up. I know RBNY vs. Santos was an exhibition, but it looked like a good-size crowd.

    I would ask why isn’t a harder push being made for MLS to get at least 1 spot in the Copa Libertadores anbd/ or Sudamericana? MLS would probably gets its ass kicked for a few years, but I think they’d be competitive eventually.

    P.S. I know about the calendar difference, the small rosters, etc. But I’d think that if there was real interest in participating in the tournament, the league would consider adjusting them.

    Also, wouldn’t participation in a tournament like that generate some TV money?

  55. Two things about the RBNY/Santos game: the visiting team was from Brazil, and the game was played in New Jersey, which like Massachusetts is overrun with interested Lusophones.

    And for MLS participating in South American tournaments, travel would be a huge issue for teams. Imagine, for instance, Columbus playing an MLS game at home on Saturday and then going down to play Colo Colo in Chile on a Tuesday, before coming back up to play, say, in Houston the next Saturday. That’s 9,780 miles traveled in one week.

  56. moot point really, UEFA CL has leagues with opposing calendars but they make it work just fine. Russia, the Scandinavian countries, but they make it work, it can even be more beneficial to them

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