Skip to content

By the way, CONCACAF Champions League’s finals start on Wednesday

Apr 23, 2013, 10:55 PM EDT

CONCACAF Champs Lg logo

The sad reality of CONCACAF Champions League is people in MLS Land don’t care that much, a debilitating ailment for a competition hungry for significance. When Major League Soccer teams are alive in the tournament (which they were, until last round), you see plenty of opinions describing the confederation competition as important for the region’s future. But unless a team can go on a run like Real Salt Lake did two years ago, MLS fans drift away. The tournament’s important when a U.S. or Canadian team is in it, but when they’re not? Well, we have a regular season to tend to.

I mention this because Champions League’s final starts tomorrow with a first leg that’s carrying the buzz of a comatose teetotaler. While Mexico is covering it with the same hyped anticipation they gave last year’s final, this year’s rematch between Monterrey and Santos Laguna has failed to capture the imagination of the MLS faithful. People who keep tabs on Liga MX will watch tomorrow night, but neither Monterrey’s potential record-tying win (a third in a row) nor the presence of U.S. international Herculez Gomez with Santos Laguna can entice an MLS audience that moved on once Seattle and Los Angeles where bounced.

It’s a truly fascinating matchup. Monterrey are the kings of the region, having represented CONCACAF at the Club World Cup two times in a row. To get there last year, they had to go through Santos Laguna, who got revenge by defeating the Rayados in the Clausura final. Though the teams have split their last 11 meetings (both teams with a 4-4-3 record), Santos won 1-0 this weekend when the teams surreptitiously met in Torreon.

Monterrey has the most talented player in the region, Chilean attacker Humberto Suazo, but while for a long time the Rayados also laid claim to being CONCACAF’s most talented squad, it’s not longer clear they have more firepower than the Guerreros. Oribe Peralta, Carlos Darwin Quintero, and Gomez form the region’s best attacking trio. Panamanian defender Felipe Baloy is as imposing as any player in CONCACAF, while 39-year-old former Mexican international Oswaldo Sanchez continues to defy time in goal. Add in a pinch of revenge-driven motivation and this weekend’s result and Santos is favored to knock off the holders.

There’s no shortage of storylines capable of corralling interest, but that doesn’t matter. For as much as diehard MLS fans want CONCACAF Champions League to be a major undertaking – one which teams would gear up and prioritize over early regular season matches – there’s little appetite to see it through. The cause behind promoting Champions League is MLS, not the tournament itself, so when the league’s teams bow out, so do its supporters.

There’s a tinge of hypocrisy there, but it’s understandable. Just as England suddenly started caring about Europa League once its teams were in it (and not Champions League), MLS fans go where their teams go. We may again next year hear the annual calls to start making CONCACAF’s Champions League more than it is, but unless another RSL comes along, we’ll likely be left where we are now: Waiting for weekend action while devoting little more than the corner of our eye to the teams that eliminated MLS powers.

Rayados start their quest for three-straight tomorrow at 10 p.m. Eastern. Santos Laguna is searching for their first confederation title. MLS starts again on Saturday when Toronto hosts New York.

Latest Posts
  1. West Ham officially adds Alex Song on loan from Barcelona

    Aug 30, 2014, 10:12 AM EDT

    ?????

    The long-time Arsenal midfielder is returning to both London and the Premier League.

  2. Burnley 0-0 Manchester United: Sloppy Utd overshadows Di Maria debut

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT

    Burnley v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    The Premier League got its first taste of what Di Maria can do when he served an absolutely gorgeous 50-yd ball to a streaking van Persie.

  3. Watch Live: Swansea City vs. West Bromwich Albion (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT

    Monk Getty Images

    Can the Swans win three on the spin to the start the season? Watch their game against West Brom live, right here.

  4. Watch Live: Queens Park Rangers vs. Sunderland (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers' Park challenges Sunderland's Larsson during their English Premier League soccer match in London Reuters

    Jozy Altidore is on the bench for Sunderland, but the bigger striker news is that Chelsea target Loic Remy is not on the bench for QPR.

  5. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Crystal Palace (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:08 AM EDT

    Newcastle left it til late, but finally found a winner courtesy of Papiss Cisse. Getty Images

    The newest England call-up and ‘Ginger Pirlo’ Jack Colback will join a dangerous NUFC unit that sees Remy Cabella, Moussa Sissoko and Siem de Jong in the mix.

  6. Watch Live: West Ham United vs. Southampton (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:08 AM EDT

    Southampton v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    Can Saints grab their first win the season away from home against West Ham? Watch live, here.

  7. Watch Live: Manchester City vs. Stoke City (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:04 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Bacary Sagna makes the lineup for City, who will start Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic up top.

  8. Report: Loic Remy heading from QPR to Chelsea in $13 million move

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:43 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v Hull City - Premier League Getty Images

    Mourinho will remember Remy’s Man of the Match performance for Newcastle United in a 2-0 win over Chelsea at St. James Park last season.

  9. Report: US, Bayern Munich starlet Julian Green to join Hamburg on loan

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:26 AM EDT

    Brazil Soccer WCup Belgium US AP

    According to reports in Germany, Green, 19, heading to Hamburg for the 2014-15 season.

  10. Report: Ajax accepts $23 mil Daley Blind bid from Manchester United

    Aug 30, 2014, 7:20 AM EDT

    Netherlands' Daley Blind, center, celebrates with Bruno Martins Indi, right, after scoring his side's second goal during the World Cup third-place soccer match between Brazil and the Netherlands at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, July 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez) AP

    Don’t mind Louis van Gaal: he’s just setting Manchester United up to immediately contend.

  11. Watch Live: Burnley vs. Manchester United (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 7:07 AM EDT

    10633046555_cbefbc577e_z

    It’ll be a big day at Turf Moor regardless of result, as it’ll mark Louis van Gaal’s first Premier League win or Burnley’s first PL point.

  12. WATCH: Premier League online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 3

    Aug 30, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

    LE_WEB_BANNER_40px_RGB_POS

    How and where to watch every single PL game live online or via the app.

  13. MLS Snapshot: Sporting Kansas City 1-3 Houston Dynamo

    Aug 30, 2014, 12:06 AM EDT

    Graham Zusi, Mike Chabala

    The Houston Dynamo downed Sporting Kansas City, 3-1, at Sporting Park on Friday night.

  14. WATCH: Will Bruin strikes the first goal for Houston Dynamo

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:49 PM EDT

    Will Bruin 3

    Will Bruin’s close-range finish put Houston ahead of Sporting Kansas City, 1-0.

  15. Orlando City SC’s Yordany Alvarez retires due to medical condition

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT

    Diego Chara, Yordany Alvarez

    Orlando City SC midfielder Yordany Alvarez retired from professional soccer because of a medical condition.

  16. Portugal excludes Cristiano Ronaldo from roster of Euro 2016 qualifier

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT

    Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo bows his head as he reacts to a play during the group G World Cup soccer match between the United States and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) AP

    Paulo Bento didn’t name Cristiano Ronaldo in his squad for Portugal’s Euro 2016 qualifier vs. Albania in early September.

  17. Watch Live: Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo (Lineups)

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Houston Dynamo v Sporting Kansas City - Eastern Conference Championship - Leg 2 Getty Images

    Watch the MLS match between Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo live on NBCSN.

  18. UEFA looking to change Champions League seeding

    Aug 29, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    uefa Getty Images

    A new system would benefit domestic club winners by separating the teams into different pots.

  19. Van Gaal: Roy Hodgson ‘cannot judge’ Luke Shaw’s fitness

    Aug 29, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    louis van gaal Getty Images

    Louis van Gaal thinks Luke Shaw has been coping with his injury problems well.

  20. Arsene Wenger to be ‘as secret as possible’ over transfer deals

    Aug 29, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    wenger Getty Images

    The Arsenal manager will remain quiet to the media until the transfer window closes as rumors swirl around the Emirates.

Featured video

Breaking down Di Maria, Balotelli deals