Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Edwin R. Jusino-FútbolBoricua
The big question after last night’s horribly performance by the Houston Dynamo and consequential elimination from the CONCACAF Champions League shows that MLS is living a pipe dream. How can a league claim that they are the second top league in the confederation, and yet all their 4 entries are now all but gone. What is more amazing yet is that the 2 underdogs from a supposed lesser league are still contending and have very much all the chances in the world of reaching the semi-finals.
Everyone that has been following the Champions League must admit that the United Soccer Leagues have outperformed and have shined in comparison to the Major League Soccer teams. This is by no means saying that one league is superior to the other rather that they are different worlds and different styles. The Puerto Rico Islanders and the Montreal Impact have, indeed, been successful because their style of play is different to the majority of the Central and North-Central American teams.
Major League Soccer teams play mostly a style similar to the Central and Mexican American teams, touch and possession football, whilst the USL teams play mostly a defensive-counterattack aerial game which is something these teams are not used to playing against. The MLS teams also are at disadvantage when it comes to depth. USL has no salary cap, whereas MLS does limiting the growth of the teams. This was done by the MLS to maintain stability within the league, but as it has turned out to be, it has become a double edge sword because it has limited the teams to a mediocre performance on the most important of stages, the international stage.
The MLS has failed, collectively, to see that the CONCACAF Champions League has certain unseen benefits other than prize cash and the opportunity to play in the FIFA Club World Cup. This unseen benefit has been understood by the administrations of both the Impact and the islanders.
As I have been web surfing the forums of the different teams, and because of the two USL sides achievements, the opinion of most posters is that the USL is a competitive league, and has attracted the attention of teams like Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, and Marathon of Honduras to be interested in players of teams like the Puerto Rico Islanders.
This international recognition has brought the attention of internationally recognized teams like Pachuca CF, CF Monterey and English Premier League side Stoke City to invest in and establish USL 1 sides. Arguably, the only sort of investment the MLS had was FC Barcelona, whom just recently pulled out of their bid to establish a Barcelona team in southern Florida.
The recent world leagues rankings that place the MLS as the 77th in the world was criticized by many MLS loyalists, but as the Champions tournaments have proven, the inconsistency of the MLS teams in international competitions proves that the FIFA ranking was indeed accurate.
The United Soccer Leagues vision is the quality of the product on the field, whereas the Major League Soccer’s vision is apparently one of making a profit regardless of what it takes, even if it means superstars in mediocre teams.