A lot of discussion surrounding the dismal performance of the USMNT in the World Cup has been the lack of top level competition for the MLS and CONCACAF. What if CONCACAF had a ‘Champions League’ similar to the UEFA Champions League? Would a tournament of the best pro teams in CONCACAF help top MLS teams and talent get even better? Or would it not matter because it is CONCACAF?
During their annual ‘upfront’ presentation of next year’s program lineup to prospective advertisers, Univision included a curious sporting event in it’s planned program lineup:
"CONCACAF Champions League" patterned after the highly successful UEFA Champions League and featuring the top club teams from the Mexican Primera Division and Major League Soccer, the tournament will be televised exclusively on TeleFutura, with 33 live matches including all quarterfinals, semifinals, and the big final game. (July 18 – November 15, 2007, Tuesday and Wednesday nights)
Unlike the current CONCACAF Champions Cup which is an eight team single elimination format, the note of 33 matches indicates there would be some type of group stage (maybe 4 groups of 4 teams, six matches per group home & away with most televised) followed by a knockout round between the top two teams from each group. Many feel this would be a very good thing for CONCACAF as a whole and the MLS since many figure at least 2 or 3 MLS teams would make it.
The main thing is this would occur during the normal MLS season. Many complain about the MLS performances in the Champions Cup because it happens before the MLS season has begun. Given this possible timeframe it would happen during the MLS season when the teams are in top form.
The only problem with all this is there is no word from CONCACAF that any such tournament is in the works. There has been some rampant speculation at BigSoccer as well as some interesting posts regarding who should qualify. HexagonalBlog also has some thoughts on it. Google turns up little beyond mentions of the Univision press release.
Most people are not getting too excited about this until CONCACAF actually confirms it as some fear it might be a sham TV type event between Mexican and MLS teams. But if it turns out to be an actual CONCACAF wide tournament, do you think this will be positive for the MLS and indirectly US Soccer? With Bruce Arena and many others saying that USMNT players need more European experience, anything that can help the MLS improve would be welcome. Do you think it’ll be worth it? Could be fun to watch if we can get past the teams from Costa Rica!