Friday, May 25, 2007

My Trip to Mexico.

I ended up having to spend the last week in Mexico City for work and while I was there, I was able to enjoy the World's game from a different point of view.

I spent part of Wednesday watching the UEFA Champions League Final with several Mexico's and other Latin Americans and I have to say, that wasn't that great a match. Liverpool looked the better of the two sides, but Milan was able to play a better second half than their first and that was all that mattered.

Later that night I sat in Papa Bill's Saloon drinking Sol and Dos Equies while watching America play on a very wet field against Santos in the Copa Libertadores. America sent it's Second team to Brasil because their First team are playing against Pachuca in the Apertura Finals tonight and Sunday. While I was still a little unsure why a club would send two separate teams to play in two separate tournaments, I watched America take a 1-0 lead into half time against Santos. That lead would soon evaporate as Santos came out firing on all cylinders and won the match 2-1 behind two great second half goals. I understand that winning the Apertura championship is the highest importance in America's plans, but I did not agree with sending what in all cases, was their second string side to play in a Quarter Finals of an international tournament.

The whole two teams issue got me thinking about MLS and how much of a chance it might be for MLS clubs to adopt that philosophy. While I was in Mexico City, it was announced that DC United will again take part in the Copa Sudamericana and again face off against Chivas de Guadalajara, the same club that knocked United out of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. With the Sudamericana taking place in September, right after the SuperLiga, and possibly during the US Open Cup run and the tail end of the MLS regular season, DC United will have several choices to make concerning player personnel. Considering that the MLS regular season and playoffs should be the club's primary focus, should United send an all reserve side into the US Open Cup? I say yes, and send the reserves into the first match.

The bigger question I saw was that as MLS grows and possibly gets involved in more and more international tournaments, will we see the type of two team commitment that I saw with America? I know that right now, several MLS clubs sort of do this when it comes to the US Open Cup, but will we see this with the SuperLiga? Sudamericana? I hope not. I honestly see no reason why a club would send a second side to take part in an international tournament. To me, it doesn't make sense. Sure, I understand sending some of the reserves, but an entirely different team? America didn't even send it's first team goalkeeper. I really hope that this practice is not adopted by MLS sides. Use reserves in the US Open Cup, but when MLS clubs take part in international tournaments, I want to see their best team sent out there.

All in all, being in Mexico with so much Soccer going on was really cool. Every TV channel pretty much had coverage of both the Champions League final and the upcoming Apertura championship with America and Pachuca. ESPN SportCenter lead off their show Wednesday night with the Champions League final, then had an update on the Apertura championship, then the Copa Libertadores match in Brasil, then the International friendly between Ecuador and Ireland, then they finally had coverage on the NBA playoffs. I couldn't understand a word of Spanish during the broadcast, but seeing so much soccer on ESPN, and leading off SportsCenter was great to see. I doubt that we will ever see that type of coverage in the State's, but a guy can dream, can't he?

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