Tuesday, July 15, 2008

SuperLiga: Better Than Better Than Nothing

Large crowds, bitter rivals, and missed PKs.

Sure, it sounds like Brave John Terry's recurring nightmare, but if Ronaldo fatigue hasn't completely consumed you and you're still combing the British papers waiting for the all of the dominos to fall in the Bentley and Barry sagas, you're kind of missing out of some decent soccer.

The NorthAmerican SuperLiga kicked off its second go round over the weekend with four quality matches—okay, three quality, and one featuring DC United—two of which were lost by MLS teams on missed PKs.

Put together to capitalize on the growing rivalry between the USMNT and El Tri, the hope was that the same vitriol from that match up would spill over into club competitions. And it seems to be working.

Still, it has no history, it doesn't involve too many household names (unless your house is in Guadalajara), and you have to put in a little effort just to find it on your TV dial, so why should you watch?

There are a few reasons...

1) It's not much of a time commitment: Eight teams. Two groups. This thing is almost halfway over after tomorrow night. The last group games are this weekend, then it's just the semis and finals on consecutive weekends after that. Hell you can schedule in some living around that kind of soccer schedule.

2) The upper hand is on our foot: The prevailing wisdom is that the Mexican teams are at a disadvantage because they are in their pre-season, and less match fit, while MLS is in full swingers mode. It's a soft swap to the CONCACAF Champions League when the opposite is in full effect.

3) The EPL schedule: As in "there isn't one." And the ink of the Euro history books is pretty much dry as well. So if you are starved for watchable soccer that is broadcast at hours when people with jobs and such can watch, here are your options A, B, and C. Oh, but hot tip, it's only being broadcast on Telefutura, so you get to practicar su Español (bonus: no ESPN announcers to muck it up).

4) It's pretty good: No, really. I'm being serious. The teams that are in the SuperLiga earned there way in. It's the top four teams from MLS last season (by points I believe) and the last four Apertura and Clausura winners out of the Mexican Primera División. So you don't get invited to play just because you've got some fellow named Beckham on your roster (cough, 2007 SuperLiga, cough). And yeah, you can bag on MLS. It is a second rate league. But even with its restrictive salary cap, its upper teams have just about caught up to the Primera División. And the Mexicans and the Americans, they don't like each other too good. So what the games lack in size, skill and/or speed, it more than makes up for in intensity.

Tonight might be the best match-up of the second group stage with Chivas at Houston. The Dynamo absolutely dismantled Atlante 4-0 on Saturday. And Chivas kind of turned conventional wisdom (see item number 2 above) on its cabeza by coming out blazing against DC United that same night. Towards the end of their 2-1 win Guadalajara started to look a little shaky in the knees. So with a 3 day turnaround, it'll be interesting to see how well they rebound physically.

But the Houston team they're facing will be without Dwayne DeRosario, their best player. DDR got a Red in the 44th. It was kind of bullshitty, but he'll be spectating along with top striker Brian Ching who is nursing an abdominal injury. Additionally, the Dynamo are short a couple of defenders, so an already thin squad is that much more Olsen'ed.

But the Dynamo have never lost an international match at Robertson Stadium. So it's the New York Yankees of the Mexican teams (read: small and not overly athletic) unfit they may be, against the two-time defending MLS champs that even when not hobbled seems to draw every other match.

The opening act will be interesting if only because Atlante are going to be desperate for the win, and DC United didn't look so good either (even then, Chivas gave them a chance to get off the mat, but United missed a PK).


ü75 said...

Stuart Holden, former Clemson player born in Aberdeen, will be the difference again tonight.

/have no idea what I'm talking about.

Mike Georger said...

isnt 'to practicar' repetitive?

is it four thirty yet?