SuperLiga is upon us once more, but just how significant is the tournament? Goal.com's Sylvestre Adame says the tournament has a long way to go before reaching the "significant" stage.By Sylvestre Adame
The third edition of the SuperLiga is just around the corner. The tournament will again showcase four of the top teams from both the U.S. and Mexico.
But is the SuperLiga really all that it’s cracked up to be?
Founded in 2007 the SuperLiga was intended to sell the fierce rivalry that exists between the U.S. and Mexico. They did just so in the dramatic final between the Galaxy and Pachuca. It came down to penalties and Pachuca’s goalkeeper Miguel Calero had a marvelous performance to give his team the win in the inaugural year. The second year of the SuperLiga was a bit different though.
Let’s suppose that this year’s UEFA Champions League final was not played by Barcelona but rather Chelsea. The final would not have had the same flare as the one we were treated to. We see Manchester play Chelsea all the time so to have something different like a Barcelona-Manchester was a match made in heaven.
The 2008 SuperLiga final was played out by the Houston Dynamo and the New England Revolution. It was a great game between these two bitter rivals but something was missing. Yes a Mexican team was missing. The final, although a great game, did not have the same flavor as the one before. After all this tournament was designed to pit the best from Mexico against the best from the U.S.
Is that really happening though?
SuperLiga’s main advertising focus is who is the best U.S. or Mexico. It is really hard to say when we are not actually always watching the very best from each country. Look at these years’ participants, there is something very odd about the list. Where is Columbus at? Where is Houston at? Where is Toluca? Where is Cruz Azul? These were the best teams in 2008 and yet there is not one trace of them in the SuperLiga 2009 edition. The reason for their absence is simple. These four teams qualified for a more respected Champions League spot, therefore excluding them from SuperLiga play.
Here now is the breakdown of the “best teams” from each country and their overall standings for 2008.
Chicago Fire (3rd overall), New England Revolution (4th overall), Chivas USA (5th overall), Kansas City Wizards (6th overall)
Primera Division de Mexico (Apertura):
San Luis (1st overall), Tigres (6th overall), Santos (10th overall), Atlas (11th overall)
Yes San Luis is ranked first, but that is only based on the regular season points. Toluca won the 2008 Apertura and Cruz Azul was the runner up. What about the powerhouses like Chivas and America? Chivas were ranked higher than both Santos and Atlas and yet they have nothing to do with the SuperLiga. Chivas along with Pumas declined to participate in the tournament. When someone like Chivas and Pumas decline to play then you know you don’t have a good product.
The tournament is solely based in the U.S. and if it ever wants to go anywhere it needs to expand. All the games are played on American soil and that needs to change. There needs to be games in Mexico. There are a lot of Mexican supporters here in the U.S. but the atmosphere is just not the same. You don’t get the chants, you don’t get the stands lit up with flares, and you don’t get the occasional cup full of urine thrown at you when your team loses. That is all a part of the game: the traveling, the jet lag, and the hostile fans. The games need to be held in Mexican venues as well.
Is the tournament really necessary? Whenever it hits, the MLS season is in full swing while the Mexican League is just getting back from Cancun. The only reason why a Mexican team would even play is to get ready for their upcoming season. They take it as exhibition games, and who wants to risk injury to their best players before the season starts? For MLS, they have a tight enough schedule having to deal with the regular season and the U.S. Open Cup. There is really no need to go out and exhaust your players on a tournament that does not have many credentials to it.
This tournament is only beneficial to the teams who have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. The spectators are the ones losing - we are not really treated with the best. The expectation is to see something like the U.S. vs. Mexico games but on many occasions it has fallen short of that. There needs to be an asterisk on the “best four” from each country because that is not what we are getting.
The SuperLiga is nowhere near a decent tournament like the UEFA Cup or even Copa Libertadores. There is a big tradition gap between the two countries when it comes to football, a gap which is nonexistent when you talk about other great tournaments around the world. A lot has to change if this tournament wants to stay alive in North America.
Sylvestre Adame covers Mexican football for Goal.com
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