TUKWILA, Wash. — Over the past few months movement towards a new competition between MLS and Liga MX advanced rapidly. It could either be like the old SuperLiga with the ‘best’ teams not in CONCACAF Champions League participating, and/or a match-up between the two reigning champions. Seattle Sounders President of Soccer and General Manager Garth Lagerwey does not think that it will happen in time for his club to face off against Chivas de Guadalaraja in 2017, but hopes the two leagues and CONCACAF can expand their competitions soon.
“It would be awesome. I’m the one that espouses the view that we should be playing Mexican teams as often as possible, even in friendlies. We’ve played a couple of Mexican teams in friendlies - Necaxa, Tijuana,” Lagerwey reminded the press at Starfire on Friday. “It’s the best competition we get in our region, and why wouldn’t you want to match yourselves up with against the best and go up against major clubs any time you can?”
MLS (except Canada) and Liga MX teams have not met in the CCL Group Stage since 2012, and now, as the Sounders return to the competition, that Group Stage has been eliminated. It will take time before we see a new secondary competition between the region’s clear best league (Liga MX) and its second most popular (MLS), probably starting in 2018.
“It’s a great idea. It’s a great concept. I have no doubt that it’s complicated - both politically and financially with CONCACAF, etc, etc. We don’t have an indication that it is going to happen this year,” said Lagerwey.
MLS won the original North American SuperLiga only once in its four year run. D.C. United and the LA Galaxy each won the old CONCACAF Champions Cup, when it was hosted in the United States, while Real Salt Lake and the Montreal Impact are the only MLS sides to make the finals of the CCL. FC Dallas and the Sounders are the only teams to beat a Liga MX side in Mexico.
Don Garber’s stated goal is to be a top league in the world by 2022. A first step is to be the best within CONCACAF.
“But certainly as a fan of MLS,” Lagerwey said, “I think we get caught up in things like ‘how do we catch the EPL?’ and ‘how do we become a big five league in the world?’ and I think we need to never lose sight of the fact that we need to become the best league in CONCACAF.”
The new tournament, whenever it comes and whatever it is called, and the reformated CONCACAF Champions League will be how MLS teams show their strength on the field.
“When we can consistently win Champions League against our Mexican counterparts, that in-and-of itself will be a historical achievement over the first 20-25 years of the league. I think we are going to do it. I know we are going to try do it. That is a really, really significant goal of the league going forward, in something like a Champions League, champions games or form of a SuperLiga or however one describes that it would be great for the growth of the league.”