116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Let Us Test Ourselves

As I was processing the U.S. defeat to the Czechs yesterday, I stumbled across an idea, one that I think would do well to carry the U.S. team further in its endeavors to become actual contenders. Since we seem to do well staging exhibitions for the world's top clubs here, and since we have the stadiums and marketing, why not have a mini-tournament every two years, and call it the U.S. Invitational Cup?

Here's the idea:

1. Invite 3 world-class international teams, two of which are continental rivals (Brazil-Argentina, England-Germany) and one from a different continent, to play the U.S. National Team.

2. Play the first round as a doubleheader, the first match between the two rivals, and the second match between the other country and the USA. For example, Game One would be Brazil-Argentina, while Game Two would be Netherlands-USA.

3. Three days later, play the final to determine the champion.

Pretty simple, right? The whole tournament could be done over a holiday weekend, such as Labor Day or Memorial Day, and televised on ESPN 2 or an equivalent channel. The host city could change every two years, particularly rewarding cities with soccer-specific stadiums, which would be ideal for this kind of thing, anyway. It wouldn't need to be a massive event, but it would be a fun thing for American soccer fans to witness, the continental rivalries would provide incentive for other nations to make the trip, and the quality of international teams would make the tournament somewhat legit.
The true benefit for us, however, would be the chance to test ourselves against true top-notch talent every two years, rather than going against the Latvias of the world, or undermanned Norwegian sides. Even if a team like Brazil were to only bring its B-team, it would still be a real challenge for the U.S. team, and worthwhile. Honestly, if we can get Real Madrid to play Real Salt Lake in freaking Utah, couldn't we pull a few strings and get USA vs. Spain at the Home Depot Center?


Anonymous McCrum said...

Wasn't this the idea behind the Gold Cup? I'm not saying this isn't a great idea and would draw approximately eleventeen hundred thousand more people, but do you really think USSF is going to pull it's collective head out of it's ass long enough to actually get a good idea like this to happen?

We keep winning in CONCACAF, USSF sees this as a good thing and we're going to be spinning our wheels over here for a very long time.

This is great, but much like an intelligent playoff system in MLS, it'll never happen.

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

...or no playoff system in MLS. Should be a single table IMO. mccrum's right - the USSF hasn't done enough to challenge the players and help raise the level of competition. That "send off" series was beyond a joke - not a single decent opponent, then we line up against one of the best national teams in the world. Nice goin' guys!

4:52 PM  
Blogger Z. Jackson said...

I'm not too down with the single-table idea. With no relegation (which will never happen here), a runaway champion would make MLS TRULY unwatchable. I like the idea of an East champion and a West champion, with a home-away, 2 leg series to determine the champ. But I'll get back to writing about MLS once the World Cup is over...

5:11 PM  
Anonymous McCrum said...

Single table's never going to fly in the US, and here's why:

Quick quiz!

Who won the 2005 MLS Cup?
Who won the 2005 Supporter's Shield?

I can tell you offhand that the LA Galaxy won the former, but without the internet I'm at a loss to remember the Quakes.

I understand wanting to make the entire season mean something instead of pulling it all together with 10 games to go to be one of the 60% of teams that make the playoffs, but this also means that if KC has a great middle of the season and puts together more wins while another better team has 4 starters off with the National Team, they can conceivably lock it up with 5 weeks to go and make the end of the season even less worth watching now.

I'm a fan of the top three teams making it to the playoffs. The top team gets a week off while the other two fight it out, much like the Open Cup, where higher seeded teams don't have to play as early.

Speaking of, let's give it up for the Open Cup, any championship with single game elimination that any team in the US can join in on? Brilliant.

One fitty street out!

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Ryan, mccrum, good points, and I would not have a problem with the two-leg home/away idea playoff, anything to make the regular season games more meaningful. I just have a problem with rewarding mediocre teams with a playoff spot, whether it's in MLS, NBA or NHL. It might actually be good for the league to have a dominant team that everyone hates, at least for a season or two.

8:00 AM  

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