Reports from Brazil this morning suggest that MLS teams could be invited to participate in the Copa Libertadores in 2015.
Lancenet are suggesting that meetings are scheduled by South America’s CONMEBOL during the upcoming Confederations Cup in June, to see if MLS teams can be admitted into the prestigious club tournament.
It has been mused in the past that MLS teams could join the tournament, but this seems like the biggest indication yet that it could get the go ahead. However reportedly the biggest stumbling block would be with finances.
That said, would MLS gain much from competing in Libertadores and leaving the CONCACAF Champions League? In terms of quality, the former is undoubtedly superior and would push MLS’ elite to new limits on the international stage. So in terms of player development, MLS would be taken much more seriously if it could compete with powerhouses from Argentina and Brazil on a regular basis. And the level in MLS could rise and some of the best talent in South America would look at a move to MLS more favorably, if teams were competing in the Libertadores.
But on the flip side, the travel times would be a hindrance. Some trips to Uruguay, southern Argentina, Chile and Peru would be arduous and would demand plenty of rescheduling in MLS fixtures. But as we saw with the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders run to the CONCACAF semifinals this season, MLS officials are willing to reschedule games to give the leagues teams a better chance of winning on the international stage. So it might work.
MLS joining the Copa Libertadores would be a huge step up from CCL, but would it be worth it financially? I suspect once those numbers are crunched, we will hear a lot more about the possibility of the Galaxy and Seattle taking on the likes of Boca Juniors and Corinthians. That sounds pretty awesome. Club Tijuana has proven Liga MX sides can cut it in Libertadores, so why can’t the best teams in MLS follow their lead?