Tags: champions league, Christian Bolanos, CONCACAF, Don Garber, Gignac, Tigres UANL, Vancouver Whitecaps, Vargas
Oh well, we knew it was a long shot. We only lost 1-2 at home to a far superior team in Tigres UNAL and once again, the free enterprise football teams of Mexico beat the salary capped Major League Soccer (MLS) teams of Canada and the USA. The CONCACAF final will feature Tigres and Pachuca, and it is Mexico which will yet again send a team to the World Club Championship.
It all started well when a Christian Bolanos free kick found Techera whose cross put Tigres ‘keeper Guzman under pressure. The big netminder coughed the ball up to Brek Shea, who neatly tucked the ball into the net past him. It was 1-0 Whitecaps after only three minutes. We were in with a chance.
Or so we thought. For the rest of the match Tigres had possession of the ball for the vast majority of time. Whenever the Whitecaps got possession of the ball they soon gave it up under the cohesive net of defensive pressure Tigres employed.
Even if we put one or two passes together, Tigres defenders were able to easily read what the ‘Caps players were doing and made the necessary adjustments to put out any brush fires.
Shea left the pitch early because of an injury, and youngster Davies came in and looked for the first time like a kid out of his depths. In MLS play Davies is able to put heavy pressure on multiple defenders but he was easily squashed by just one defender tonight.
The overall quality of the Tigres team was solid from front to back and their team play was on another level. The quality of Eduardo Vargas, Chilean international and Andre-Pierre Gignac, French international was on display and it was Gignac who put the tie beyond doubt with a curling shot from outside of the box mid way through the second half. Whitecaps defenders gave the Frenchman too much room and time to shoot and you could see the punishment coming. At 1-1 the Whitecaps needed three goals in a short amount of time; it was an impossible task. Tigres struck again late on and there is no doubt they deserved to go ahead to the final of the CONCACAF Champion’s League.
All of this will make for grim news for MLS commissioner Don Garber. His salary cap model is no match for Mexico’s free market Liga MX, which has once again proven itself to be far superior in quality. MLS has a long way to go before it can compete with the Mexican league, and it remains a distant second in terms of quality in the CONCACAF region.
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.