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Xolos reach Libertadores quarters, should MLS join the party?

May 15, 2013, 10:20 AM EST

FBL-LIBERTADORES-PALMEIRAS-TIJUANA Getty Images

With Jurgen Klinsmann an interested onlooker down in São Paolo last night, US youngsters Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo helped Club Tijuana stun Brazilian giants Palmeiras.

Xolos recorded a 2-1 win to advance to the quarterfinals of the Copa Libertadores, in the clubs first-ever season in the competition.

They also become just the third Mexican club to win in Brazil in Libertadores action, with only Club America and Chivas previously prevailing in 32 attempts from Liga MX sides.

Astonishing.

Corona and Castillo played their part in the hugely impressive win, and Tijuana will now face Atletico Mineiro in the last eight. They have a player you may have heard of before. Ronaldinho. Remember him?

So with their wonderful performance in South America’s premier club competition so far, the Xolos are proving that teams from CONCACAF can mix it with the big boys from Brazil, Argentina and the rest of CONMEBOL.

(More: MLS Commish puts kibosh on Copa Libertadores talk)

This question has been asked over and over again. But here we go: Should Major League Soccer change its stance on not competing in the Copa Lib?

Probably not.

But Tijuana’s success is a tantalizing preview of what MLS teams could achieve in years to come. In this very blog just a few weeks ago, Steve Davis agreed with Garber’s comments about MLS preferring to concentrate on dominating CONCACAF Champions League play before even thinking about entering the Libertadores.

Rightly so. But in years to come, if and when MLS teams can claim a CCL crown from our Mexican foes and finally dominate the CONCACAF region, do we want MLS to join South America’s elite?

The traveling alone would be a logistical nightmare. But the league is willing to shuffle games around to help MLS teams succeed, as we saw with Seattle and LA’s CCL semifinals earlier this year.

But the gulf in class between MLS and most of South America is clear for all to see.

We should salute Club Tijuana’s rapid rise. But success for MLS clubs in CONCACAF Champions League action still seems way off, let alone glory in the Libertadores.

  1. midtec2005 - May 15, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    This article raises a great point. The Libertadores could turn into a Western Hemisphere champions league… which would naturally have a much greater profile than the CCL. I see no reason why that tournament wouldn’t turn into a really big deal in that scenario. Of course this all requires that MLS continues to grow…

  2. dfstell - May 15, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    I’m not sure MLS would do all that well, but I’d be curious to watch.

    The things that bore me about MLS are that (a) we only have 19 teams, (b) the lower leagues aren’t televised, (c) we have no promotion/relegation adding drama, (d) we have playoffs that reduce the impact of regular season games. Put all of that together, and it’s just hard to get too excited about Columbus vs. DC United (again).

    Personally, my favorite time of the CCL is the group stage when we get to see MLS clubs playing all these weird little teams from Central America.

    I guess the question is: Would there be TV money in letting Copa Lib into the US? There probably isn’t $$$ from the US audience, but would it somehow expand the dollars to broadcast in South America? If so, would MLS get some of that $$$?

    It really wouldn’t take much money to change things. MLS is such a cheap league than any influx of cash could really turn thigns on their ear.

    • talgrath - May 15, 2013 at 4:44 PM

      I’d watch the Copa Libertadores if MLS was involved too, if they don’t put it on a speciality sports channel like CCL is now.

      A I can agree with. B, Ehhh, I probably wouldn’t watch. C and D. No no no. Promotion/relegation is the exact opposite of drama for the league overall. Since leagues with promotion/relegation usually don’t have a playoff (ala EPL) or have a very limited playoff that means that only the top few or bottom few teams have much to play for. I’d much rather see the playoff system we have now than promotion and relegation.

  3. sluggo271 - May 15, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    No, no, no..MLS doesn’t need to join any foreign competitions as it is the greatest league on the planet. Also, the best players that good old American money can buy. MLS doesn’t need to prove how great it is even though an MLS team has won the US Open Cup many years now!! MLS teams, rightfully, compete for the greatest cup on the planet…the MLS cup. Even a team with a losing record can win that beauty!!

  4. charliej11 - May 15, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Sloggo271 and I agree. Right now MLS is the greatest and joining Copa Lib would distract from that. He would probably agree that sooner or later it will probably happen.

    Spending money, even if MLS is doing pretty well right now on that front, on competing in South America, just isn’t a first priority. Maybe after they get to 30 teams who are all solid.

    That being said, I never thought I would love CCL as much as I do.

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