Earlier we mentioned some speculation about a possible CONCACAF Champions League starting in 2007 modeled after the UEFA Champions League. However, it looks like this will only be a tournament between Mexico 1st Division and MLS teams. I found an older article on SoccerNet last night where MLS execs talk about their plans:
"This idea of meaningful international competition is very significant in raising our level of play, not just in international competitions, but also in our domestic league," declared deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis.
"Should we be able to pull this off," said MLS commissioner Don Garber, sharing his dream, "envision having a Mexican first division and MLS version of the Champion’s League with games going on throughout the year, culminating in a final that would alternate between countries. It is a really big idea and a big opportunity for us to stand even firmer in competition against other professional sports."
Apparently the Interliga Tournament will be used as a model:
the Interliga tournament, which serves as a qualifying competition for two Copa Libertadores spots from the Mexican first division, is something of a model for the upcoming MLS/MFL tournament.
Interliga answered the question of whether Mexican league fans would come see their teams play in the U.S. — however, only the big-name teams, like Club Deportivo Guadalajara, sold out the stadiums.
Yet Garber and Gazidis are counting on cross-border competition between the leagues to fuel interest in the new tournament, which they are hoping to launch next season.
"It’s the magnification of the U.S.-Mexico rivalry in this region," asserted Gazidis. "It’s at the point now where it’s a real rivalry, a very unpredictable game with enormous emotions swirling around it and huge interest and great value. That’s something that we believe can translate over to the club level, particularly if we can prove that MLS teams can compete with Mexican club teams."
So it looks like we won’t be getting a CONCACAF Champions League just yet. However, it is a start and could be a vital part of improving the level of play in the MLS. One step at a time. Perhaps if this is successful, MLS will approach CONCACAF about expanding the tournament in later years.