I continue to say that success in CONCANCAF Champions League is not the golden goose that some Major League Soccer and club officials make it out to be.
Yes, there is some long-term value in getting Major League Soccer into a better, more relevant place. But the connections here are more drawn out than some people believe. Success in CONCACAF Champions is a step or two along the destination, but now one should be fooled here.
If the Houston Dynamo, the Seattle Sounders or the LA Galaxy make hay in the quarterfinals, which begin tonight, and then go on to something historic, that does not put Major League Soccer on the fast track to greater TV revenue, to better player salaries, to measurably improved refereeing, to getting stadium deals done in D.C. and Boston, etc. Those are just some of the more important MLS pressure points.
But that’s me. Clearly, men who hold high places see things a bit differently. And some fans and media like to make the case, too. They see traction in CONCACAF Champions League as a powerful accelerant to where MLS wants to be.
Here’s MLS commissioner Don Garber just last week:
Let me state it very emphatically here. By 2022 we want to be one of the top soccer leagues in the world. We’re going to measure that by the quality of our play, the passion of our fans the relevance of our clubs in their markets and also the viability of our business.
“The foundation of our plans has been laid very soundly. The foundation of the plan going forward is going to be divided into two very strategic, specific areas. One is to enhance the quality of play, the second is to grow our fan base.”
He wasn’t speaking specifically of Champions League … but he has said plenty of times before that its CCL success is part of it.
I say: Let’s hope we get the chance to find out.