Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Here it comes…SuperLiga!

Ok, so how long has it been since the inaugural SuperLiga tournament was announced along with the participants and the bitching? After all of the complaining, arguing and debates, we are finally set to see inform MLS clubs go against pre-season Mexican clubs with 1 Million dollars up for the winner.

So what should we expect? Should we see the MLS clubs wipe the field with their Mexican opponents? The Mexican clubs are in preseason form after all, so they should be rusty and ripe for the picking.

I doubt that we will see anything other than some interesting matches. Clubs on both sides of the Rio Grande should do well, but I think we will see something of a Houston vs. Pachuca final. Houston is playing very well right now and Pachuca seem to have everything falling into place for them.

I am worried about two of the MLS clubs, the LA Galaxy and DC United. The Galaxy will be entering their second straight international tournament in pretty much as many weeks. They lost 3-0 to Tigres and 1-0 to Chelsea this last week. Considering that they have already faced a pre-season Mexican club and fared poorly, how are they going to do against two of the better Mexican sides? The Galaxy are still trying to figure out who is playing which position and what formation works the best. Pavon picked up a knock in the Chelsea match and that other guy from England doesn’t seem to be ready to really play until maybe Saturday against Chivas. I was impressed with their defensive form against Chelsea. Xavier played out of his mind in central defense and Cannon saved their bacon 4 or 5 times. That said, I expect the Galaxy to finish last in their group, using the three matches essentially as a pre-season run at the new players and see which formation works the best and to get them back in form for the MLS regular season.

DC United on the other hand really haven’t had that much of a run of good form lately. In their last four matches, they are 0-3-1, having been shut out in the three losses and having blown a 3-0 lead at home n the draw. So now the injury depleted Black & Red have to face two of Mexico’s best then travel to Houston and face the MLS leading Dynamo, one of the clubs that shut them out in those three losses. Considering that Tom Soehn should have both Ben Olsen and Fred available (Olsen had to sit out the RBNY match and Fred gets an MLS sponsored vacation when United face the Revolution on August 5th) I expect them both to be in the lineup for Wednesday nights match against Morelia. If United can get three points against Morelia, a draw against America then hopefully they will not have to worry about their match against Houston. If not, I think based on their current form, United might miss out on playing passed the group phase in this tournament.

Overall, my opinion of this tournament hasn’t really changed. I think that it is a great idea and one that will hopefully grow with each season that we see it. Based on Commissioner Garber’s statements on MLSnet.com, I think that it will:

“Matt from Chapel Hill, N.C.: What are your expectations of SuperLiga this year? Will it ever go to a Home and Away format? Will it expand? Will it be on TV in English?

Don Garber: We're launching SuperLiga in a reduced format this year and still have some work to do to determine the future structure of the tournament. I certainly hope we can achieve a home and away competition with expanded teams but this year have to determine the tournament's success before we move forward.” - MLSnet.com

The biggest thing that will determine its future is if the first run is a success. In order for the tournament to be a success, the current fans need to get behind it. It seems that a lot of MLS fans are shunning this tournament because the teams were selected instead of teams that won some type of qualification to get in.

I think that once the matches get started, there will be plenty of fans in the seats and we will see this tournament become a success. As MLS/SUM/MPD begin planning the next SuperLiga, hopefully they will take any mistakes from this one and eliminate them and expand the tournament to include more clubs. I would ultimately like to see MLS/SUM/MPD begin to invite the top two clubs from Costa Rica as well.

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