Wednesday, July 30, 2008

SuperDisgrace

What was supposed to have been a battle for the right to play for the SuperLiga final instead turned into, well, a battle.

Atlante vs. New England in a battle royale. Vilar versus Heaps. Atlante assistant versus Albright. Disgrace versus Revolution.


The match itself was not the greatest display of soccer. Shalrie Joseph's early goal made the rest of the game pretty much anticlimactic. But what wasn't expected was the way Atlante went down swinging... and gouging and chest-butting and grabbing and clutching, all of it dirty and shameful.

Now, you've got to keep in mind what kind of club you're dealing with. Atlante does not represent the typical Mexican club. Atlante are for all intents and purposes a bottom-feeder that rose up and had one great season. They won the Clausura 2007 title but probably won't contend for a title in another decade or three. To lump Atlante in with Pachuca or America or Cruz Azul and others in the same class would be a disgrace to Mexico's upper crust.

What Atlante did was shameful. It was a black eye on a tournament that's loaded with them, that could barely stand to have been dealt with another negative blow. A million-dollar tournament that isn't quite, that is played on below-average fields, that has had questionable calls at best, conspiracy theory-raising calls at worst, a tournament that now will be associated with poor smortsmanship from one of its semifinalists.

Verbal jabs and accusations from south of the border will be harsh. We'll probably hear 'The tournament was staged for MLS teams and the refs are on MLS' side' or the like.

Now, none of that excuses Atlante's behavior. Nothing can justify Federico Vilar knocking Jay Heaps down with a chest blow. Or the gutless assistant coach slamming Chris Albright's face. Or the mad scramble from player after player well after the final whistle was blown. In total, five Atlante players saw red.

Let's hope in future editions of this tournament that cooler heads prevail and that the issues listed above improve, mainly the refereeing. Until then, we can hope the display we saw from Atlante was an aberration.

29 comments:

PrimateWrangler said...

I turned it off early I guess. I don't want to sound racist, but if my comment is viewed as such then so be it. I have played with and against Hispanic players all my life and they are by far the worst losers.

Anonymous said...

Luis,

A great post. Hopefully MLS and the FMF will get together and find solutions to these problems. On MLS's side, the fields are an absolute joke. The FMF, for their part, need to come down hard on their clubs to behave like professionals. Both need to find better refereeing crews to take control of the matches.

SuperLiga could very well become a really entertaining competition but until the powers at be address these problems I don't see it becoming as good as it could be.

Let's hope we see a different tournament next year.

PrimateWrangler said...

there are no great refs in all of CONCACAF...there might not even be any good ones

PrimateWrangler said...

lets get Colina to do all the games.

Anonymous said...

Mexico has produced a couple of good refs. They've been given important matches in the World Cup.

The US usually gets Chiquidracula for their matches. He's a bit of a stickler, but he's competent.

But in the end, Luis is right. This was a classless display but to be expected of a side like Atlante. They're known as the "Potros Bravos" among soccer circles for a reason.

A.C. said...

What happened to SuperLiga in general this year? I remember lots of classiness last year on the field. The fans behaved worse, actually. I remember Omar Bravo and Landon Donovan exchanging shirts after the Chivas Galaxy game. The Pachuca/Galaxy final was also heated on the field, but with no cheap shots, just players going hard after the game.
Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt, though. Some of these teams have met often enough to build up personal grudges against each other. That's lame, though. It's not soccer when it's more about getting some guy back for something.

Anonymous said...

As horrible as it was, this will probably get it much more coverage on ESPN then any other outcome. Seriously, this might actually show people that it's not a glorified scrimmage for the Mexican teams. And as for last year not being dirty, did you see the tackle that ended Beckham's season? Did you see any of the DC games last year--there were some dirty play and very late tackles there by the Mexican clubs.

Anonymous said...

I think this year's Superliga was better than last year's. Last year it seemed like America and Chivas just wanted to be on the first plane to Mexico from day one. Pachuca and Morelia seemed to be the only teams that took it seriously, and I don't think any Mexican teams beat an MLS team in regulation.

This year though it seemed like all the FMF teams were taking the games seriously hence the Mexican teams performing better in the group stage and it's probably why the games have been more heated than last year. Also I think the reffing has been much much worse than last year's.

Joel said...

This is excellent just what the Superliga needed.. As disgraceful as the fights are they will help build more passion and interest..

A.C. said...

Beckham was the one who went in late on the tackle that injured himself and the other player. Neither one backed down and both went hard for the ball, Becks just a split second later. Incidentally, the Pachuca player suffered the exact same injury as Becks did - a bad knee strain.

CACuzcatlan said...

I never really got into SuperLiga this year. The Chivas-DC game was amazing, but the rest weren't too impressive. Now this crap. Maybe we should just scrap it and focus all on the CONCACAF Champions League.

Anon, WTF are you talking about? There wasn't even a foul on Beckham's injury last year.

Anonymous said...

"SuperVacilada" is what carlos albert called the tourney last night on futbol picante... i couldn't agree more... atlante a disgrace? please... rigged refs, god-awful pitches... whatever... the tourney fattens the coffers of sum and mls, on the back of mexican fans who come out to see mexican clubs play "meaningful" games...

in my humble opinion, the mexican clubs are getting what they deserve for participating in these joke tournaments...

buenas noches, d

Anonymous said...

EVERYONE knows refs in CONCACAF are a joke. The USSF and FMF need to SACK UP and do something about it. Last year should have been enough for both of them to mutually agree on an amicable decision. Rigged refs... HA! Atlante was absolutely classless and pathetic, in every sense of the word.

Anonymous said...

I'll be honest, at least IMO what I feel is behind all this. The American soccer fan really has no idea how lowly and beneath them the Mexican player, FMF, or even the Mexican fan still sees MLS. Things were more peaceful when the Mexican teams always won. No big trouble or extremely harsh words. Now that level of competition is closer and MLS teams are winning, the sour grapes and BS conduct appears more. I have to say I'm tired of the excuses and poor sportsmanship from our Mexican teams. We are learning to respect their Nat team, why not give them some credit with their league? And why the hell can't we learn to shake hands like the rest of the freakin world?

On the CONCACAF refs: yeah some weak calls. That's futbol. It could be alot worse. Need I remind you of all the terrible and biased calls against Mexican teams in past Sudamericana and Libertadores Cups by the Uraguyan and Paraguyan refs? Now that was dodgy and certainly corrupt. That's how I see it.

Anonymous said...

I do remember that shit. I would go further and say that the Argentinos have a well established culture of soccer corruption that has been taught throughout its youth ranks to all of its pro leagues and teams. It literally is win at all cost. You will always see the cheap shot, the reckless foul, the payback, retaliation, and of course revenge. The take no prisoners approach is probably why their so good. That and the poverty. Their goal keepers and defenders are especially nasty, not to mention their criminal-like hooligans.

Ryan said...

I think its time to put an end to this tournament. It was a good idea, but every game seems to have the same storyline. Excessive chipiness throughout & some sort of skirmish at the end. I'm not even suprised anymore. THe Houston/Pachuca game was the exact same thing, Pachuca went after Houston's bench or something at the end of that one. THe examples go on. I was a good experiment, but it failed and its time to pull the plug before someone gets (even more) hurt.

RP said...

I'm not surprised that Atlante lost the plot after losing to NE given their recent history of bad blood. The dust-up between these teams last Spring in Cozumel while NE was there for preseason training resulted in numerous ejections. And that truly was a "friendly" match.

Still, I don't understand how professional athletes and coaches can behave so unprofessionally, especially when they have to know it is going to be analyzed on film, critiqued on the web and in the news ad nauseam. I am curious to know exactly what motivations exist, cultural or otherwise, that theoretically reward such actions, because at some level there has to be a reward or else this would not be tolerated.

Dylan said...

The real problem is that there is no incentive not to do this. A red-card suspension in a barely meaningful tournament you'll probably never play in again, even assuming there's another edition? Not much of a punishment. Do the organizers have any ability to level fines or give out any kind of punishment outside the tournament bubble?

If not, there's your problem, especially when you have the situation where one team is free to do anything without punishment and the other can't because they're still playing.

Anonymous said...

One thing that hasn't been said is that it's one thing for the Mexican teams to feel that the refs are bought or whatever, but it's another for the Mexican fans to feel the same way. If this is the way that most Mexican fans might feel, especially after this year's Superliga, won't it turn off potential fans who probably were thinking of attending next year's Superliga or watching it on TV? If we lose the Mexican fans, then what's the point of the tournament?

EscapeGoat said...

I loved how the Atlante coach claimed that they'll "never return to the tournament" after the game. Umm, judging from your porous defense and non-existent offense on display here, coach, you'll be lucky to be participating in the 2nd division playoffs next year. It's a good thing the refs have sucked; otherwise he'd have to maybe talk about his inability to coach a basic offsides trap, tell his wingers how to cross a ball, and instruct his forwards on how not to freeze like little schoolgirls when faced with beefy goalies. Jesus.

papa bear said...

I guess if there is a positive to take out of this, the animosity the last two days has shown that both leagues actually do give a shit about winning this thing; million dollar prize or not.

I kinda like the idea of this tournament eventually being the play in to Copa Libertadores for MLS/FMF. Talk about explosive.

Oh and any excuses about refs etc are just that, excuses. Refs blow calls all the time that's just the way things go sometime. Until there is some evidence that refs are being paid off it's just sour grapes.

Anonymous said...

I have come to expect this sort of behavior from Mexican teams over the years. From the cheap shot Rafa Marquez put on Cobi Jones in the 2002 World Cup to Oswaldo Sanchez's kick at Eddie Johnson in 2007. Or how about the Mexican National Team always refusing to shake hands and exchange jersey's with the US Men's team? That shows a lot of class. My favorite example of Mexican classness has to be when the US Men's Olympic team was serenaded with shouts of "Osama" when playing an Olympic qualifying game in Mexico. How much more blow hard crap is Blanco going to be allowed to get away with before the MLS does something about it? You can make excuses all you want, say it is isolated and Atlante doesn't represent Mexican soccer, but from my vantage point, they do.

PrimateWrangler said...

In fairness I believe there were some Atlante players shaking hands after the game. That is however the problem with bringing a lot of attention to yourself whilst being an idiot. You make those associated with you look like idiots too.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about the wide spread history of corruption in Mexico and Latin America in gov't let alone sports. La Mortida and the price of doing business is the way things are done down there. They assume every country is like that too. So a payoff to a ref is very much believable and probably somewhat expected. Sad but true.

BTW, the cheap shot Atlante coach like Vilar are both Argentines and the other main combatant is a Colombian. So I don't believe the incident was solely a Mexican affair.

Anonymous said...

TO THE post about Hispanics being sore losers, there is a diffrence between not being happy after a loss, and intentionally FIGHTING, KICKING, CURSING, ROLLING AROUND THE FLOOR. MEXICANS are the worst at it, and some central americans as well as a small amount of south americans, HOWEVER what you seem from MEXIcans is over the top. WHY DO you think most HISPANIC countries DEtest them. CAUSE THE"Y THink they are the best at everything when in reality there not. IT runs from the soccer teams to there fans and entire population.

Compare Friendlies at recent games between mexicans and DC UNITED with DC UNITED games against other Hispanic teams.

DOES NOT COMPARE.

MEXICANS should have there own Breed and not be classified as HISPANIC.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of La Mortida, I wonder if it's anything like La Mordida.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. I try to type as fast as my mouth flaps and it sometimes looks as dumb as it sounds.

Anonymous said...

lets play a game . . . its called "listen to the FMF fans make excuses about how FMF teams aren't poor sports"

Anonymous said...

I remember when Boca Juniors lost to Chivas 4-0 in a Copa Libertadores game at home a few years back. The Argentines pretty much went ballsitic and started a worse fight than the won Atlante started the night before. I remember a friend of mine said the next day that the Argentines just don't know how to take a loss to the Mexicans. Now the same thing has to be said here, the Mexicans just don't know how to take a loss to the Americans.