Friday, February 22, 2008

SuperLiga Groups Announced... sort a.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the 2008 North American SuperLiga participants have been decided and groups have been drawn.

Group A
- New England Revolution
- Chivas USA
- Atlante

Group B
- Houston Dynamo
- Chivas de Guadularara
- Pachuca
- DC United

DC United will host all of their matches at RFK Stadium.

It does appear that the actual schedule for this tournament has yet to be determined, as DC United's schedule only has the All Star game listed for July. Now unless MLS has finally realized that a month break in the summer would actually help the quality of play in the league (which I doubt that they would ever do) the lack of schedule matches for July leads me to believe that SuperLiga will take place in July, but they aren't sure as to when exactly. Houston only has one match listed on their schedule, as does New England. Chivas USA have two on their schedule.

All in all, the group looks very tough, so the guys who do take part in the group stage matches should have good matches. I assume that Tom Soehn's priority list for 2008 might look a little like this:

1a. CONCACAF Champions Cup (as it comes first)
1b. MLS Cup
2. Supporters Shield
3. CONCAF Champions League
4. SuperLiga Championship
5. US Open Cup

I haven't heard or seen anything either for or against this, but as the CONCACAF Champions League will be taking place during the same time frame as the CONMEBOL Copa Nissan Sudamericana, I would assume that CONCACAF clubs will not be taking part in that tournament any longer. I will keep an eye out for this one.

I am one of those people who actually likes the SuperLiga. Yes, it is a made up tournament, but most tournaments have to start somewhere. Yes, the matches don't truly test the MLS clubs as they do not have the travel "quirks" of heading to Mexico for group matches. All in all, as I said last year, the tournament is a very good idea and has to begin somewhere.

I would ultimately like to see the group stages involve 6 games, 3 home and 3 away. unfortunately, this type of thing will not be done until MLS rosters get larger and the salary caps get bigger. MLS clubs would pass out if they had the mid week travel matches in Mexico, then the MLS matches, then right afterwards the CONCACAF Champions League matches, which will require more travel matches.

Until MLS increases the roster sizes and the salary caps, the SuperLiga, in its current format, is a good stepping stone to giving more MLS clubs exposure to matches outside of MLS. This is a good start.

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