Vancouver Whitecaps set to play real football club in Champions LeagueMarch 13, 2017 at 9:51 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2017 | 1 Comment
Tags: champions league, CONCACAF, Don Garber, MLS, Tigres UANL, Vancouver Whitecaps
It is a funny thing when you make the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League and all you have played is a couple of Major League Soccer (MLS) teams (and one of those clubs only played their b-team) and a very poor team indeed from Trinidad.
Things will change dramatically tomorrow night when the Whitecaps play comparative giants Tigres UANL in Monterrey, Mexico. Whereas MLS clubs play in a climate controlled aquarium, Tigres play in the open ocean of world football. MLS clubs labour away under a heavily cost controlled environment with mysterious rules which only a priestly caste can understand. Tigres operate freely, and can pay their players what they wish.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber would love to have MLS teams beat Mexican teams in the tournament, but it just does not happen that often. It is always a Mexican team that lifts the trophy at the final whistle in the tournament finale. The truth is that most clubs in the MLS are not that enthusiastic about the tournament, and MLS fans tend not to show up for games. The barrier to MLS clubs winning is not just money, but commitment, especially, south of the border. Canadian clubs have shown more enthusiasm, especially the Montreal Impact, who made their way to the final only to be humbled by Club America of Mexico.
Liga MX, Mexico’s top football league, is superior to MLS in overall player quality, as the Vancouver Whitecaps are about to find out. If the Whitecaps escape Monterrey tomorrow night having conceded only four goals, they will have done well.
The Whitecaps will face a crowd of over 40,000 hostile Tigres fans who will expect their team to deliver on the beautiful grass pitch in the stadium called “the Volcano”. The Whitecaps will also face international players Vargas, of Chile, and Gignac, of France, if Tigres deem it necessary to play them.
While I will cheer the Whitecaps on with hope in my heart, the reality is that the MLS cost controlled model does not yet produce teams capable of winning the tournament. It will require MLS some years of development and some loosening of financial restrictions before that can happen.