CONCACAF Champions League Fever

 

CONCACAF Champions League Fever
Kevin Wallace

Now that FC Cincinnati is in MLS,it’s time to start caring about CONCACAF Champions League. That’s just the cost of getting your team promoted and not having to play away to Louisville anymore. But CCL is here, it can be absolutely hilarious, and this year could be a great one for MLS.

If you’ve watched European soccer for any amount of time, you’ve watched Champions League football. It’s the best teams from all around Europe going head to head to see which Saudi prince or Russian oligarch has skirted enough rules to “recruit” the best team. And I’m here to tell you that CONCACAF Champions League is just like that, minus the slave money. And then therefore minus a lot of the talent. But there is a comparable amount of travel!

CONCACAF, our little region of the soccer playing world, has its own Champions League. And ever since they moved it to a respectable format in 2009, an MLS team has never won it. Even in the old system, Galaxy won in 2000 and DC United won in 1998. That’s it. In the measuring stick that is CCL, MLS (and by extension the US and Canada) have always come up short against Mexico and Costa Rica.

 
And Americans aren’t used to coming up short against Mexican footballers

And Americans aren’t used to coming up short against Mexican footballers

But last years as a little different. MLS teams made some real noise in the tournament. And sure, MLS teams have made the finals before, like Montreal and RSL, but 2018 was just better. Two MLS teams made the semifinal, and Toronto took the final to penalties. Penalties! But Mexican giants, and terrible MLS team owners Chivas, prevailed.

This year though, this year should be oodles of fun. And if you’re an FC Cincinnati fan, I demand that you 1) stop doing the wave and 2) start watching CCL. Atlanta United has assembled perhaps the best team MLS has ever seen, New York Red Bulls have perfected their system, Sporting Kansas City has too, Toronto is looking to reclaim their throne as the best MLS team and build on their second place finish last year, and Houston is just happy to be there. Atlanta, Kansas City, New York, and Toronto represent the best four teams MLS has ever put into the tournament at one time.

And if you’re an FCC fan, that matters.

CONCACAF Champions League, where Americans act like Canadian success is their success

CONCACAF Champions League, where Americans act like Canadian success is their success

If MLS teams are able to show well in CCL, are able to knock off Mexican teams and not get tripped up by Honduran or Costa Rican teams, it elevates the entire league. It makes MLS, and by extension FCC, a top destination in the region. The young talent coming out of Latin American will be considering going to MLS over other leagues in the region. It makes recruiting players in general that much easier. And all of this has trickle down effect for FC Cincinnati.

Not to mention, the winner gets to go play in the Club World Cup which is a fun little tournament where the champions league winners from all other regions of the world compete. Who wouldn’t want to see an MLS team get thrashed by a Juventus or PSG ‘B+’ squad!?

The nice thing is this year, all of the games are on the Yahoo Sports app, for free. Download the app you use to watch that one London NFL game a year and watch the most absurd version of the Champions League in the world.

Kevin Wallace