MLS should have killed SuperLiga

STEVEN SANDOR, 24 HOURS TORONTO

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

There were more than a few shocking announcements made during MLS Cup weekend, making the game itself almost secondary.

Montreal's expansion bid bit the dust, the MLS announced it would respect FIFA international dates, and commissioner Don Garber announced that the MLS' top teams could no longer play in both the Superliga and the Champions League.

The SuperLiga is an MLS-backed series which brings together four elite Mexican squads and four of the top MLS sides. The CONCACAF Champions League brings together the best teams from all of the North and Central American and Caribbean zones. The winner of the tourney goes to the FIFA World Club Championships.

But, this year, CONCACAF didn't go well for the MLS.

Tonight, the Houston Dynamo need to beat El Salvadoran side Luis Angel Firpo to survive in the Champions League. A draw or a loss and the MLS will, shockingly, not have a team in February's quarter-finals.

Dominic Kinnear, Houston's coach, doesn't want to be the final MLS casualty.

"We are going to pick a team that is as full-strength as we can have. There are some players who have MLS playoff hangover, but after we were eliminated, we got together, said we have a game left to play, let's handle this as professionally as possible."

But, earlier this year, New England won SuperLiga. So, SuperLiga makes the MLS look good, the Champions League makes it look bad.

Kinnear understands why SuperLiga, for the MLS, is a better draw than the Champions League. In the U.S., Mexican expats make up a massive chunk of the MLS audience. They know teams like Club America, Pachuca and Pumas. They don't find games against Caribbean or Central American powers as exciting. Yes, there are Mexican teams in the Champions League, but they aren't concentrated into a series of games as the SuperLiga does.

But the MLS realizes that having its best teams in both external competitions hurts them in the long run. So, now, the league's top teams go to the Champions League, while the next four go to SuperLiga.

Houston, as Western champs, will go back to Champs League next season, as will U.S. Open Cup champion D.C. United, who join the New York Red Bulls and Cup winners the Columbus Crew. Chivas, New England, Kansas City and Chicago go to SuperLiga.

But, now that the SuperLiga is officially the second-tier tourney, why keep it alive at all? Garber should have just put it out of its misery.

-- 24 hours sports editor Steven Sandor has written about the Beautiful Game for numerous publications around the globe. The Red Card appears Wednesdays in 24 hours.


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