Sunday, July 29, 2007

SuperLiga love

I have to admit that I like the SuperLiga tournament, but it's not the first time I've marched to the beat of a different drummer. So I thought I'd ask our readers - what do you guys think about SuperLiga? How could it be improved? What's good about it now? What's bad? Who is your prediction pick for Golden Boot? MVP?


Mark in NRH said...

SuperLiga has been outstanding 6+ games in. It appears both sides are taking it seroiusly -- although if the FMF representatives don't fare well, will they shrug and say, "It's our preseason. We were pacing ourselves." ?

It will be interesting to see which FMF teams are willing to compete next year.

Anonymous said...

my criticism is that the tournament is solely directed at the spanish-language market-no English language TV, no effort to put it on the season ticket packages in LA and Dallas (in fact, moving the game in LA to the Coliseum, ensuring that the crowd would be 95% pro-Chivas), and even naming the tournament in Spanish...

I certainly don't mind watching games on Univision, and heck, my wife was born and raised in Mexico, but don't you think it would do better at the gate if you marketed to BOTH sides of the USA/MEX rivalry???

Needs to have proper qualification and home/away games to be a real tournament, which will hopefully come in the next edition.

Anonymous said...

I think if they want to make it better they have to have games in both countries. As we know many teams don't play that well away from their home stadiums. At least play in more neutral sites. Having DC, Houston, LA, and Dallas play 2 games at home against these teams is really unfair an unfair advantage.

Anonymous said...

Its not hard to believe that Spanish language networks would jump at showing Mexican teams to a mostly Mexican American spanish audience. FSC and Goal TV are likely not to have the same interest showing those teams as they broadcast in English. English language networks have had a hard enough time marketing MLS as it is so I figured they have taken a wait and see attitude on SuperLiga. Besides the purpose of the tournanment is to try to introduce the Mexican American fans of MFL teams to MLS teams and vice versa. Because Telefutra/Univision have paid for MLS rights for a few years it makes sense they would broadcast the games so as to get some of their hardcore Mexican League viewers to see MLS isn't so bad and is worth their attention.

But its not like you can't watch the games in English the SuperLiga website is broadcasting all the games to an English speaking audicence which is more available then Telefutra which many people can't get.

Gene said...

The tournament has exceeded my expectations. All the matches I had seen were good competitive games.

In terms of improvement, one short-term improvement would be to have teams qualify for the tournament. Perhaps, winners and runners up for the MLS Cup and Open Cup should be the ones in it from the American side.

A more long-term improvement would be to have this tournament as a qualifying for a Copa Libertadores spot.

Anonymous said...

The games have been fun so far.

I do like the idea of playing the tournament in various countries, to make it more fair.

If they continue to have it, and it gains a bit in popularity, I'd love to see it become a regional champions league. MLS and FMF could keep 3 or 4 spots, two or so spots to Costa Rica, smaller leagues could play qualifying rounds, etc. It could become really fun .

Siva said...

To Anon who wished to include clubs from Costa Rica et al - there's already a regional champions league, it was played during the MLS preseason.

SuperLiga is awesome - good games, good publicity for MLS among supporters of Mexical futbol in the US, etc. Beside the suggestions made so far (qualifying via regular league play, some games in Mexico or other "neutral" venues), I would like to add that it might be interesting to play it over a few months and in a home-and-away series (a la Champions League), so it overlaps with the MLS season as well as the FMF Fall (Apertura?) season, and the teams playing in the SuperLiga won't be worn out in mid-season.

El Chueco said...

The organizers said that the primary target audience for this first edition of the tournament is the Mexican community in America that follows the Mexican league. If we can get them to take MLS seriously and attend their local MLS games then the league will benefit significantly. Even someone as far removed from the executive suite as Houston defender Craig Waibel stated that the goal is to attract Mexican fans to MLS.

That sounds great. On paper, this looks like a good business model for MLS. However, I am wondering if they ever really thought of the perception of the average Mexican fan they were targeting while actually employing the main tool used to exploit this tournament - the rivalry. I know MLS has a new latin american advisory panel (laap) but clearly there is no significant fan perspective being funneled back to the MLS strategic folks.

My point is that while these superliga games have been entertaining so far there have been some things, in my opinion, left to be desired on the part of some MLS teams in terms of tone and attitude towards their Mexican counterparts. I am part of the "target audience" and I feel downright insulted sometimes at some of the things MLS players and U.S. media do and/or say towards the Mexican league, its players and its fans. They are very careful in focusing their vitriol towards the Mexican players, teams and fans with guarded words but there is a lot of grey area that they tread on that could be perceived as unacceptable. Many others have expressed this sentiment to me as well. It's not very smart to insult your target audience while asking them for your business. One things is to exploit the rivalry (good idea) but another thing is to insult people.

I can't become an MLS fan (even though I'd like to) if I feel you insult my identity. As most of you know, many Mexican fans develop strong bonds with their teams. Sometimes its about identity. That doesn't mean that you can admire and even support opposing teams from other countries. I am a Toluca fan and due to their confrontations (rather, battles) with Colo-Colo in recent international tournaments, I find myself now cheering for Colo-Colo. I'd also like to cheer for MLS teams too but so far I can't bring myself to cheer for someone whose dislike of the teams from my ancestral homeland extends beyond the 90 minutes of the game and sometimes even beyond the sport.

I also want to finish by stating that yes, I understand the perception in the U.S. that Mexican players are "dirty" and are also "divers". In my mind they exhibit "picardia" (a certain mischievousness) that pales in comparison to South American players. The argument in U.S circles that Mexican players play "dirty" is really lame and exposes naivete as well as hypocrisy. All you have to do is watch the Superliga to see how blatantly "dirty" MLS players are playing. The sad thing is that their media (more specifically soccer related web media in the U.S.) has the audacity of continuing to call the Mexicans "dirty" and "divers" while their players are engaging in the same behavior and not being called on it. I am not complaining about this kind of play. It's part of the game and it won't go away. Just please drop that argument, especially in light of your own players also exhibiting it. Get over it.

I will acknowledge that Mexican teams have previously (and in some cases continue) to have disregard for MLS. Sometimes they are rude and not media friendly (which is a favorite topic of Andrea Canales) and this is not acceptable in my opinion. However, the attitude towards MLS has changed, is changing and will continue to change on their part. Maybe some day the U.S. soccer media attitude towards Mexican teams changes too.

Lastly, there are some in the U.S. soccer media world who continually are griping that MLS gets no respect in Mexico. I couldn't disagree more. Mexican teams, players and media have continually praised MLS and the sport in America. The announcers on TV, the writers in print and radio program hosts marvel at how effective the MLS teams are (and they love ripping their own teams as well). I have seen and heard nothing but the most glowing of accolades from the part of the Mexican media and players. So please get over the "we get no respect mode" either. MLS has certainly earned it.

Now, if some of the negative issues can be removed and MLS really tries to make in-roads into this community beyond the banal then maybe MLS has a chance of making it in the general (I stress "general") target audience.

I really hope they do. That would make a fan out of me.

Anonymous said...

The fix for the CCC is prize money and Libertadores. You already have a regional championchip but it's obvious that money not the world club championship spot is a bigger motivating factor.

Anonymous said...

Dear El Chueco

As a Black American soccer fan I also feel that US soccer media and its fans insult Black players when they call Black players such as Eddie Johnson “lazy”. I also find it insulting that many fans made Oguchi Onyewu into some kind of superman (that’s my nice way of saying super “N”) only to cut him down when he didn’t perform up to some unrealistic expectations of him. These words and attitudes are often code for racism in sports that reveal prevailing sentiments in the larger society.

I too feel that US media and fans are being a bit hypocritical when they refer to Mexican players and their teams. But I don’t think MLS should have to pay for media and American fans attitudes as MLS can not control something that is deeply rooted into the minds of Americans towards Mexico. I do not believe Mexican players are playing dirty, I think they do whatever it takes to win. Ben Olson of DC United often implores the same tactics but Americans don’t often call it dirty. He has a lot of heart, guts, and blah blah blah is how people explain it. Bobby Boswell actions against Moreila or Drew Moore’s behavior that got him rejected could easily be considered dirty if the shoe was on the other foot. Not to mention Donovan’s diving in the Gold Cup one got him a yellow card in the semi-final or Brian Ching’s dive in the final that got the equalizing penalty kick.

I think that the comments from Donovan about a lack of respect are becoming outdated. In the past there was a lack of respect, frankly some players still don’t want to give it. But you can’t make people respect you but you can earn their respect. I think we have earned the respect of many Mexican fans as AC’s links to Media Tempo would indicate. I remember Chivas’s head coach remarking about how serious they were taking DC United as they were a good team that went through the trouble of coming to Mexico to train and scrimmage before the second leg of their recent Champions Cup match. For Chivas to take the threat of losing to DC United that seriously shows a lot of respect. That’s more then I can say for the US’s approach to Copa America or some MLS teams approach to the US Open Cup.

So maybe part of the next step for American soccer is that fans, players, and teams stop demanding or begging others for respect. I’m talking about maturing into being a soccer nation confident and secure about whether others respect us or not and instead can show the kind of respect it wants to receive from others.

Matt L said...

1. have loved the games
2. would like to see a copa lib spot associated with superliga
3. some aspect of home-away would be interesting