Wednesday, August 1, 2007


"MLS is superior! Those Mexican teams aren't as great as everyone thinks they are!"

Actually, I'm not sure anyone in the media has quite uttered those words, at least not in print anyway. But I'm sure several fans have already thought as much. If Mexican teams were truly the better sides, some fans likely claim, then the Mexican teams should have cleaned up in this tournament.

It's actually not quite as clean and simple as it seems. MLS has more than held their own against Mexican teams in this tournament, but you can only really draw conclusions about how the teams came into this tournament, their current form and what the future holds for each side (for MLS teams, the rest of the 2007 season; for Mexico teams, their respective hopes for the 2007 Apertura).

There is really no way to say one league is better than the other based on one tournament. The Mexican league has been around for decades and its clubs have tradition, honor and legions of supporters. MLS has been growing steadily since its inception in 1996, still trying to find its footing in the United States but producing some strong sides and quality soccer with each passing year. Each league is a strong, unique and worth watching.

The respective clubs from both the U.S. and Mexico don't play by the same rules: there is no salary cap in Mexico; MLS teams don't have the freedom to bring in whatever players they like whenever they like with no one to answer to but their fans.

Perhaps the biggest factor I'd bring up to refute anyone drawing conclusions for either side would be the location of this tournament. All games are played here in the U.S., and while it may seem that a team should play relatively the same from site to site, you must also factor in the comfort level MLS sides have enjoyed by not having to travel, by being able to stay home with their families and play in familiar and comfortable settings. Fan support in the stands is not enough to overcome the cross-country travel that awaited each Mexican club.

If the shoe was on the other foot and the Galaxy or D.C. had to start the tournament in Monterrey, head down to Mexico City and finish off in Morelia - all in their preseason- it seems that might take a toll on the clubs. Believe me, it's not an excuse - it's just a reality now as much as it is during the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

Hopefully next year's edition will feature games in Mexico as well. As far as MLS has come since 1996, an MLS team has yet to beat a Mexican team in Mexico in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

Still, I don't think a consequence of SuperLiga is to try and pit league against league to measure strength. It's been an enjoyable tournament - even if you only got to see the best match via youtube - and as long as the two respective leagues continue to support it, it should remain that way.

And who cares about league superiority? I would love to see FC Dallas fans rooting hard for Pachuca against Houston simply because they hate Houston.

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