116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Crossing the Border

For those of you desperately searching for a dope rhyme to step to, have no fear, I have returned; what did I miss? Very special thanks to my guest bloggers, who helped keep the site going during an insanely hectic period here on 116th Street...

You know, with some of the dollar figures we have been reading about lately, it can be easy to miss a $1 million prize laying around for the taking. Yet, as MLS basks in the glow of the Beckham signing (of which I will only say that since the league is only footing $2 million over five years for him, announcing a "$250 million deal" could potentially leave them with some serious egg on their faces), an announcement of possibly greater long-term significance slid right under the radar. Yesterday's unveiling of the SuperLiga, an eight-team tournament pitting the best of Major League Soccer against that of the Mexican First Division, may not be the first attempt at creating a Champions League-style tournament in North America, but in terms of organization and (more importantly) marketing dollars, it stands the best chance of making an imprint in the U.S. sporting scene.
The SuperLiga brings to the table what the CONCACAF Champions Cup fails to deliver; a sexy, uncomplicated name, a simple format, and a primetime Univision audience. What it fails to deliver is a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup, but the greater financial muscle behind this tournament may change that situation in future years as well. It also formally establishes a club version of the blood fued USA and Mexico fans have shared internationally over the years, raising the stakes in a way that the CCC could never achieve. The $1 million prize seems largely cosmetic, but makes for a good selling point as the potential for soccer in the U.S. television market continues to be explored.
What this tournament (along with the Beckham signing, shirt-sponsorship deals, etc.) means to me is that MLS is staking a bolder path than that of the national team program, which is good for the league but probably bad for the Nats. While the USSF has dissapointingly chosen to play things safe (no need to revisit any of that), MLS seems perfectly willing to throw ideas at the wall to see what sticks. There have been so many reasons to question whether or not soccer will ever work in this country, but I have to say that I am pleased with the league's willingness to take risks now that they have a solid base of stability. While the SuperLiga isn't perfect, it is a good idea that could have enormous ramifications if carried out properly; isn't that all we're really asking for?


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8:41 PM  
Anonymous McCrum said...

At least this time MLS is coming from a more solid footing before trying bold moves. That goddamn shootout still rankles me.

9:11 PM  

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