3 days 'til MLS: Will this year be the year in CONCACAF Champions League?
As the MLS season approaches, MLSsoccer.com marks each passing day with a different statistic, observation or talking point, setting the stage for March 2.
3 – MLS teams looking to make history in the CONCACAF Champions League
There are three clubs left that can make this year the year.
Mexico has been the measuring stick for US soccer since … well, forever. At least since the 1980s, and in earnest since the mid-1990s. One of the great “coming of age” games for the US national team was a 4-0 win over Mexico in the 1995 US Cup, and seven years later, Bruce Arena’s team scored the biggest notch on the belt that either side has struck in the history of the rivalry. That 2-0 win in South Korea is still the high water mark of the program.
The US did it backward, though, growing the national team program before they really grew the league. Relatively speaking, MLS has been playing catch-up to the USMNT.
And, quite obviously, to the Liga MX.
So with three sleeps left until the regular season kicks off, consider this: Save for a few scattered victories over the past couple of years by MLS teams, Mexican entries have dominated the CONCACAF Champions League since the tournament’s latest inception in 2008. No MLS club has won a two-legged series in the new tournament against Mexican competition. Seven of the eight finalists since the CCL formed have been from the Liga MX, with only Real Salt Lake’s oh-so-close run in 2011 breaking Mexican hegemony.
MLS clubs are still looking for that 1995 moment, or even better, their 2002 moment. And three of them – the Seattle Sounders, Houston Dynamo and LA Galaxy – are in action next week in the quarterfinals of the 2012-13 version of the tournament.
The Sounders and Dynamo will be facing Tigres UANL and Santos Laguna, respectively. The Galaxy face Herediano of Costa Rica, and should they advance, will most likely play Monterrey – the two-time defending champs.
Scoring an historic win shouldn't be easy, after all.
Regardless, somebody has to get it done. The goal, as stated by Commissioner Don Garber, is for MLS to be one of the world’s best leagues by 2022. In order to get there, we have to go through Mexico. No doubt about it.