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How important is CONCACAF Champions League to MLS?

Mar 5, 2013, 1:28 PM EDT

CONCACAF Champs Lg logo

I continue to say that success in CONCANCAF Champions League is not the golden goose that some Major League Soccer and club officials make it out to be.

Yes, there is some long-term value in getting Major League Soccer into a better, more relevant place. But the connections here are more drawn out than some people believe. Success in CONCACAF Champions is a step or two along the destination, but now one should be fooled here.

If the Houston Dynamo, the Seattle Sounders or the LA Galaxy make hay in the quarterfinals, which begin tonight, and then go on to something historic, that does not put Major League Soccer on the fast track to greater TV revenue, to better player salaries, to measurably improved refereeing, to getting stadium deals done in D.C. and Boston, etc. Those are just some of the more important MLS pressure points.

(MORE: Why CCL success won’t help as much as MLS officials say)

But that’s me. Clearly, men who hold high places see things a bit differently. And some fans and media like to make the case, too. They see traction in CONCACAF Champions League as a powerful accelerant to where MLS wants to be.

Here’s MLS commissioner Don Garber just last week:

Let me state it very emphatically here. By 2022 we want to be one of the top soccer leagues in the world. We’re going to measure that by the quality of our play, the passion of our fans the relevance of our clubs in their markets and also the viability of our business.

“The foundation of our plans has been laid very soundly. The foundation of the plan going forward is going to be divided into two very strategic, specific areas. One is to enhance the quality of play, the second is to grow our fan base.”

He wasn’t speaking specifically of Champions League … but he has said plenty of times before that its CCL success is part of it.

I say: Let’s hope we get the chance to find out.

  1. CaliforniaRedskins - Mar 5, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    I think CCL success is more of a symptom than anything else. If the league does all of the things it wants to do and continues pressing towards being a top class league, then it will win the CCL because of the increased level of play. Winning the CCL is a metric and given the relationship between the US and Mexico it is an important one. Some longer range benefits would be gained by winning the tournament, but they would be overshadowed by the progress required to win it.

    • unclemosesgreen - Mar 5, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      Spot on, it’s just a temperature reading on our progress. Will it be nice when it happens? Yes. It will be nice. It will benefit the individual club a lot more than MLS as a whole – but it will still be nice.

  2. east96st - Mar 5, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    As long as MLS coaches are rewarded by how their teams do in the MLS, it’s a joke. Why would ANY coach risk his contract and/or an extension to have his guys play MORE games, risk MORE injuries, and arrive at the MLS playoffs exhausted and injured in order to win CONCACAF? If I’m the coach of a MLS team with playoff aspirations, I tell my guys CCL is our lowest priority. It’s a sideshow and there’s no financial incentive for the players or the coaches to go all out, so they don’t. As a fan, I do NOT want my team to even be in CCL. It’s a competitive disadvantage.

    • unitedlee - Mar 7, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      east96st – I appreciate your passion but come on! Your comments made me finally sign up for this blog’s comments section. Are you serious with that logic. I’m glad you are a season ticket holder and follow the league but you need to understand priorities.

      What happens when you win the U.S. Open Cup, MLS Cup or the Supporters Shield? You gain entrance into the CCL. Therefore it is a higher priority! You make good points and yes the way things are structured it makes sense to not prioritize it but if you have any competitive bones in your body then none of what you said makes any sense.

      You win MLS cup you are the best team in America. You win the CCL then you are the best team in this region of the world and get to play a Chelsea or Real Madrid in a meaningful game not some silly preseason friendly!

      And I believe there are financial incentives. The club that wins CCL gets at least 500k and then you get another 500k for being in the Club World Cup so there is a cool mil incentive right there. I might be off on the numbers but they are low if anything.

      It has always struck me funny how fans, players, coaches, front office staff and writers(Steve Davis) makes these comments playing down the CCL as a secondary event when you gain entrance into the CCL by winning MLS Cup. So it would only make sense that this is a bigger Cup! The MLS Cup is awesome and every team should strive to win that first and foremost but when you get an opportunity to then play for a bigger regional trophy you should make that priority #1 instead of comments such as ones from Dom Kinnear saying that MLS Cup is a higher priority than the CCL. Why? If you win CCL then you are the best team in this region of the world! When you get knocked out of the CCL then you can throw out the quote of MLS Cup is the most important but until then you should do what RSL and Jason Kreiss did of going all out to win it and promote it to your fans properly!

  3. tackledummy1505 - Mar 5, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    I’m sorry but as a team I would be trying to win as much hardware as possible. Teams are defined by the trophies they have or earned. I know in Philadelphia if Hackworth would be able to win the US. Open Cup, which in my own personal thought is worse off than the CONCACAF, would have a set place in Philadelphia for a couple years to come. Fans want to see trophies, they want to see wins, it doesn’t matter what league, what tournament, or the level it’s at, you as a fan want to see your team win and represent your city at it’s best. If any people disagree in this then you’re not a true sports fan. The thing I would like to see eventually, but I know it’ll not happen in my generation (which I’m only 29) is a world championship between the CONCACAF and the Champions Cup. I just know the EURO teams won’t go for it, because they pride themselves as the best and if they were to be beaten it would shine a light on other talent and leagues. Making all that money they spend worth a lot less.

    • east96st - Mar 5, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      Four years as a season ticket holder, but I’m not a real fan because I don’t care about meaningless games played in Mexico, but I DO care about having a shot at winning the MLS Cup? Okay. If you say so. When you can we expect your manifesto on what makes a true fan vs what does not? If you could put a version with a checklist, that would be helpful.

    • unitedlee - Mar 7, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      Completely agree with tackledummy1505.

  4. wfjackson3 - Mar 5, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    I would really prefer to see a better competition before I pay much attention to it. Still, as SKC is in the July cycle, I will try to catch some games. The unfortunate thing about CCL is that it doesn’t really pair us with any other larger, similarly developed nations. There probably aren’t many international brands that feel a big need to advertise in the US, Canada, Mexico, and all of the smaller nations. For that reason, I am not sure CCL is ever going to be a big deal because it is not likely to ever be a big source of revenue.

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