Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: SoccerInsider and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  Sports e-mail alerts  |  RSS

Le Magnifique!

The USL1's Montreal Impact took a big step toward the CONCACAF Champions League final four with a 2-0, first-leg quarterfinal victory over Mexico's Santos Laguna in front of 55,571 at Olympic Stadium last night. Read the AP story here. Watch the goals down there. Tonight the league rival Puerto Rico Islanders will attempt to duplicate the feat when they host Marathon of Honduras (8 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel, Galavision).


By Steve Goff  |  February 26, 2009; 12:50 AM ET
Categories:  CONCACAF , Mexico , USL  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: China Syndrome
Next: Thursday Kickaround

Comments

Outstanding on Montreal's part!!! They had over 55,000 ppl show up and did not choke in front of a big crowd against a mid season Mexican team. Not only that they won in their preseason and haven't played a competitive match since I believe late October. MLS really has no excuses for why its teams could not produce similar results to the two USL teams.

Posted by: degerron | February 26, 2009 2:18 AM | Report abuse

Really wish the Impact could join MLS. I think that MLS' concerns were that they wouldn't expand their stadium to a large enough size; while the Saput-Gillet concerns were the $40 million fee...which given the current economy is outrageous. A truce would be optimal here as there is clearly demand for soccer in Montreal and there are "externalities" to be enjoyed from having an MLS franchise there, such as: 1) An enhanced rivalry with TFC which will generate more interest, fans, and ultimately more revenues. 2) More media coverage for the sport as a whole in Canada which again will generate the said interest, fan support, and revenues.

I think MLS needs to lower its cost of admission to $20 million for Montreal, and Montreal needs to either double their stadium capacity OR renovate Olypmic Stadium sufficiently enough for a soccer team to play consistently there. Montreal is in a bit of a bind here with their stadium needs being between what they currently have. Again, MLS should provide the "assist" with a reduced $20 million fee. EVERYONE WINS.

Posted by: fcmuenchweiler | February 26, 2009 2:23 AM | Report abuse

This goes to show how MLS big heads lack vision to create more fan favorite venues for soccer than to stick their greedy mood to $40 mil initial fee and then stuck with 10k fans showing up in some other places.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | February 26, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

I liked that the channel in that video evidently thought that they were playing Santos from Brazil

Posted by: EricVilhelmsen | February 26, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

This goes to show how MLS big heads lack vision to create more fan favorite venues for soccer than to stick their greedy mood to $40 mil initial fee and then stuck with 10k fans showing up in some other places.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball
------------------------------

How so? MLS has been doing exactly that.

Posted by: DouginCMH | February 26, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Wow! I was really impressed with montreal, maybe it was the turf, but they completely outplayed Santos. They had very nice possession, passing, and on that first goal, such a nice setup play with a first time shot.

It really is interesting how this team is doing way better than any MLS side even houston who managed to tie at home to a not great Atlante.

IMO it says something about the coaching/talent evaluators of the USL and MLS.

Posted by: BolivianDCFan | February 26, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Someone with a brain for economics help me out here...

In the same way that United is planning on paying for part of the stadium now, and paying the rest through tax on concessions / tickets / etc. over the years, couldn't MLS bring Montreal in for, say, $30M, and then raise the percent that goes to the league (they get part of the tickets, merch, etc, right?) until the other $10M plus interest is paid off?

That's a lot of bodies for a game on a Wednesday. Discounted tickets or not, it looks like they have a good FO, which is something the league could use.

Posted by: eadc | February 26, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

55,000 Montreal fans...they really get it. I'm not sure if we could sell out RFK with free tickets for a Champs Cup match; the casual fan just doesn't get the Champions League thing. We got a decent crowd for the Chivas de Guadalajara match a couple of years ago but half were Goats fans.

Posted by: 9Nine9 | February 26, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

This goes to show how MLS big heads lack vision to create more fan favorite venues for soccer than to stick their greedy mood to $40 mil initial fee and then stuck with 10k fans showing up in some other places.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball

olympic stadium is a fan friendly venue? maybe in 1976, remember, this is where the expos basically went out of business. after three months of promotional time, and very cheap tickets (ten bucks for most of them, the most expensive were 50). it's a good turnout for the first winter event in the stadium in a decade, but not likely to replicate any time soon. Even Saputo said that Montreal is an 'event city' build some buzz and you get a crowd, especially in the winter. but they got the result against a flailing Santos team, and that's what matters.

and folks, Montreal isn't joining MLS, they had their chance and didn't want to pony up the buy in fee. they chose to stay in an increasingly small time league where they can dominate. I wouldn't be surprised to see Vancouver and Ottawa leave USL for MLS in the next four years, leaving Montreal as the only team in the league in Canada. Those teams will get the TV revenues and Canadian players. but the Impact will always have this run to remember things by when they become the St. Paul Saints of soccer.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | February 26, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Congrats to MTL.

It was one game. Joey has had his chances, and blew them. Tough.

If others are willing to pay the 40 mil, he has no bargaining position.

Posted by: Reignking | February 26, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Interesting points, but I don't think you can just "leave" USL for the MLS. First off, MLS has to want you and you have to meet MLS' criteria, including the buy-in fee. Second, I believe -- but admit I am not sure -- that USL owns the names of its clubs. Seattle is still the Sounders because MLS and USL worked out a deal, which wouldn't necessarily happen for other clubs.

Also, the 100% owner of the USL Seattle Sounders is a minority owner of the MLS Sounders. Not only does MLS own 51%, but he shares the rest with 5 other investors. While I think it is worth it for operators in large markets like Seattle and Montreal to consider bids for MLS slots, it is hardly cut and dried.

A better solution would be a formal relationship between MLS and USL in which the latter act as reserve teams for the former, giving valuable time on the pitch to prospects.

Posted by: troy6 | February 26, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

There are some very excellent comments here.

I can't say that I agree with those who feel that Joey Saputo "had his chance and blew it". The MLS should be paying the Impact to join. What MLS team has had their success in the Champs League? Other reasons why the Impact should remain in the USL.

1) The MLS is a very different league from the USL in terms of ownership rights/franchise rules. Why should a local family and ownership group give up so much?

2) The new Stade Saputo, a very nice stadium, holds 13,000. Their home games get at least 12,000 and the stadium looks full. Meanwhile, gigantic, cavernous stadiums like RFK and that of the Red Bulls' often remain empty. It looks really bad on TV. In North America, we can expect 15,000 at a soccer game. That's the reality in an NFL/NHL society. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. The MLS, demanding that stadiums hold 20,000 (to line their pockets) is bad business. Even Toronto FC has a few hundred empty seats at games (season ticket holder no shows, etc.)

3) The $40 million franchise fee is outrageous. Is Garber trying to grow soccer in NA or get filthy rich? In tough times like these what city can afford that?

4) Montreal has a fine squad that has played together for many years. The shake-up the Impact would endure upon entry to the MLS (trades, loans, transfers) would be terrible. They would likely drop to the bottom of the table in their first few seasons. (Ticket sales would plunge, etc.)

Let them remain kings of the USL. It is not an inferior league. They even have a relegation system. The MLS is a poorly designed league.

Posted by: francoalbertain | February 26, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

@eadc

They could. In fact, if you believe the rumors around the league's expansion plans, that's the crux of the conversation. The Saputo family didn't want to drop $40 Million all at once to enter and on top of that spend somewhere equivalent to bring Stade Saputo up to 20,000 and with the amenities and features that MLS desires in revenue controlling facilities.

MLS doesn't have it's head in the sand as often as people assume, IMO. Last night was a great show - but Barca, another Billionaire, Miami, and a more concerted effort than originally attempted with the Fusion has a lot in it's favor. Now, Florida is the softest of economies right now, Barca is wavering, and the stadium situation isn't as rosy as once assumed. Montreal slides back to the front.

The other BIG issue one has to consider for MLS is this: 20 teams gives you 38 games. That's 38 games to be played in a variety of climates over a LONG stretch of the calendar and incorporating SuperLiga, CCL, USOC, and National Team commitments. We are at 15, 16 is shovel in the ground, and 17 and 18 have major prospects. We have cities competing to be one of 4 left and MLS is looking at that 20 team number and going - how do we stack up on a geographical and television footprint.

LA, HOU, DC, NY, PHILLY, BOSTON - Check

Who's missing that's still a BIG city - ATL, Miami, St Louis. These cities are getting creamed on an organic basis by the Portlands, Vancouvers, Montreals of the world.

But yes - MLS and the Saputo's need to structure their entrance.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | February 26, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Last night was not a referendum on MLS in Montreal.

MLS isn't interested in specific cities, but deep-pocketed ownership groups.

Posted by: Reignking | February 26, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

@troy: Just a clarification, my friend-USL clubs own their names, not their league. You are right about the USL Sounders ownership group investing as minority owners and being involved with the MLS club.

Also, in some forms the MLS and USL tried the relationship thing back in the early days but both abandoned it because MLS thought that it didn't really need it and the USL thought that it wasn't getting a fair shake.There are still MLS clubs that loan players to USL clubs and visa versa. LA Galaxy seems to be more willing to send guys out on loan, especially to Portland Timbers.

Posted by: yankiboy | February 26, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Great Job for Montreal, would be nice to have them part of the MLS league,.

Posted by: RM27 | February 26, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Looked great, great for Montreal. Hope PR can do as well. I don't think one game, with 3 months of 10$ ticket sales played in the dead of winter is reason enough to all of a sudden change everything.
Sure wish DCU would have qualified for this round of Champions League... 10-15$ tickets would have been in many a stocking at Christmas that's for sure!

Posted by: DadRyan | February 26, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Looks like even the Canadians are jumping on the 2-0 bandwagon. Who's that on goal for Santos? Oswaldo Sanchez? Ah...

Big ups to Montreal.

Posted by: DJTruco28 | February 26, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

the big problem is Saputo stadium is a bandbox not designed to maximize revenue.
Anyone who's been there realizes it would be the worst new MLS stadium to come along. The expansion plan Saputo put forth was basically to fill in the corners and build a new stand in the empty end. That's it.
But if you've been to Saputo, you'd realize you don't really want to drink or eat anything there, cuz the lineups to the washrooms are crazy. The two uncovered stands are held up by metal beams, so many so that there's no space for concessions or washrooms under the stands (you have to go over to a small outhouse type building.
Even BMO Field, for all its erector set construction, has copious concessions and washrooms under the stands (and it needs even more!). He also wouldn't be expanding private boxes (they only have 10 small ones) nor the press box (which is very small). There are highschool football stadiums in the US that have better concessions and washrooms than the potentially-expanded Saputo Stadium.

Saputo seems to be stuck in the 1960s, when a stadium's revenue simply came from the ticket sales. Stadiums have advanced since then!

Posted by: hendrix | February 26, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

@ francoalbertain:

If you are an Impact supporter, congratulations on your win. Your side showed it's great class--yet again. Montreal played one the best games that they ever have last night (I have been following them ever since Puerto Rico joined the division back in 2004). What a showcase! Their talent was on full display last night. Well done!!! They made Canadian soccer and the USL very, very proud.

Having said that I have to ask you about a few things in your post:

Uncle Joey wanted a discount and no discounts are given.It's business. Not personal. You set a price and you stick to the price as long as the market will bare it. It wouldn't be fair for Saputo and his group to get a deal just because the Impact are a great club and already have things in place. Supply and demand.

Uncle Joey did have his chance. He blew it. MLS didn't change the price on him or his group. The value of the looney changed. The price was always clear and always firm.

Also, there is no relegation system in the USL. USL 1 & 2 clubs don't move based on where they finish in the table.

With their bid, Joey and crew threw the cheese string against the wall and it didn't stick. When they come up with more capital, if they still want in then they will be able to get in just as long as they don't wait too long.

Anyways, right now, does Montreal really need MLS. They might not be the kings of USL1 but they are definitely one of the crown jewels of the league.

They set the bar really, really high l;ast night. Now let's see if my Islanders can play half as well tonight. If we do then we should have a great chance at getting 3 points.

Posted by: yankiboy | February 26, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Montreal was sick last night (how do you say that in French slang).

I always give our USL rivals and anyone else their due when they deserve it.

What a moment.

Maximum Respect!

Posted by: yankiboy | February 26, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

My prediction of a Montreal-Puerto Rico final is still alive (unless they meet in the semis, I haven't looked at the bracket).

My partial understanding of the economics is consistent with what yankiboy wrote. Why the Montreal group could not "park" their money in $US when the exchange rate was favorable is what I don't understand.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 26, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

The other BIG issue one has to consider for MLS is this: 20 teams gives you 38 games.
_________________________________________

Doesn't this assume a single-table format, which hasn't been seen in any major American team sport in about 40 years, and in which MLS has never shown much interest?

Posted by: universityandpark | February 26, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Regardless the nature of the city or the price of the tickets, 55K+ to watch a North American club team is impressive.

And as soccer fans, why the hate for cheap tickets? Mexico gives tickets away free to ensure a crowd. Here in Atlanta when Arthur Blank bought the failing Falcons he put the tickets on sale to rebuild interest and get the team back on track.

I understand and can agree with the MLS position that they want deep, deep pockets to avoid a NASL repeat. I think that's wise. But I still wish Montreal could be added. It would look good for the sport.

Posted by: DCU-ATL | February 26, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Congrats to Montreal, excellent job on doing the business yesterday.

While I cannot understand it, I do enjoy the knee-jerk reaction of many MLS fans when it comes to the pleasant suprise that has become the USL-1 run in the CCL. So a few USL-1 teams are doing (very) well in the inaugural run of the CCL and everyone suddenly thinks that they MUST be a part of MLS?

Besides the vast difference in business models (which some have mentioned here) there is an even larger gap between league play and cup play. Where do you think last night's bunch, who are doing a nice job shocking the CCL, would finish in a 30 game MLS season? To make things easy I have based my question squarely on the level of play (and to simplify the answer, let's exclude the nasty cap, roster limitations, international call-ups, crazy travel, nausiating schedules, etc., etc.) Bottom line - cup play ain't league play. We see that all over the world. When was the last time Liverpool won the league? (and Montreal ain't no Liverpool - not anytime this century, at least)

We can argume about MLS' rash letting go of some of its younger players (could be roster reasons, could be that they just plain suck), but don't you find it strange that so many these cast-offs head to USL-1 and become key cogs in those teams? Are they really that good and MLS coaches and GMs that dumb about evaluating talent? (please do not mention Lalas).

Look as much as I would love to have that Montreal passion that was displayed last night in MLS, I am not sold that these USL-1 sides MUST be in MLS because of their results in the maiden version of a cup competition. Especially one in which the MLS participants were dealt the short end of the stick (by their own league). I'd like to see these teams replicate this success over a few more cycles then I would happily jump on the bandwagon that is the "these teams MUST be in MLS NOW" crowd. Until then, they can pay the buy-in fee AND meet the other league requirements just like everyone else. If not, I'll keep on enjoying them for feel good story they are...a smaller league team upsetting giants. Isn't that what cup play is all about, in the first place?

Posted by: Kosh2 | February 26, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

A few more points:

*Minor quibble with the title. Should be Cole Porter's C'est Magnifique. Not sure why Joe Doc didn't pick up on this one. Wasn't Porter popular in the '80's? Sorry, that was Irving Berlin. No, my bad, it was Taco.

*You know, if steroids and false birth dates continue, this trend of replacing baseball fields with soccer fields may continue.

*Doesn't matter who did it, the following still makes me smile
"after he beat Mexican national team goalie Oswaldo Sanchez..."

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 26, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Why the Montreal group could not "park" their money in $US when the exchange rate was favorable is what I don't understand.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 26, 2009 9:59 AM
_________________________________________

They certainly could have, just as you can convert any currency into any other currency at any time. However, by doing so, you run the risk that the currency you just converted away from will strengthen. Movements in exchange rates are largely random by their very nature. Any statement about what someone could have done is little more than 20/20 hindsight.

Posted by: universityandpark | February 26, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

And our boy Deroux showed well -- at times seeming to have the best ball skills on the field.

Posted by: jealousmuse | February 26, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The Big O lives! I have some interesting memories of that place when I went to McGill back in the day. Expos outfield dollar seats (80 cents to you and me at the time...speaking of parking currencies), dollar dogs with the Canadian style hot dog buns. Good times.

Do they sell poutine at Stade Saputo?

Posted by: EssEff | February 26, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Someone with a brain for economics help me out here...

In the same way that United is planning on paying for part of the stadium now, and paying the rest through tax on concessions / tickets / etc. over the years, couldn't MLS bring Montreal in for, say, $30M, and then raise the percent that goes to the league (they get part of the tickets, merch, etc, right?) until the other $10M plus interest is paid off?

Posted by: eadc | February 26, 2009 8:28 AM
__________________________________________

There is no reason this can't work. However, it would put MLS into the finance business, which it probably doesn't want to be in. (Similarly, I don't lend my tenants money to pay the rent, even though they are excellent credit risks. I just don't want to be in that position.) If this scheme is truly viable, then some third party should be willing to put up the $10M in question.

Posted by: universityandpark | February 26, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I wish I had been able to watch the match. The ball took some interesting bounces off the carpet in the highlights.

Posted by: sitruc | February 26, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Dos a Cero. Dos a Cero.

If MLS goes to 20 teams, the schedule may actually have to be cut to make any sense. 18 home and away within your conference. And 10 games against the 10 teams in the other conference -- doing the home and away thing, but over two seasons, not one. If they broke it out to 4 five-team divisions, they could go up to 32 games by adding one more game between all the intra-division teams. Just sayin' -- it won't be home and away in a single table format.

Posted by: fischy | February 26, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to be the wet blanket and the ostrich with his head in the sand on this one. But I have no interest in a 32 team MLS - not in 2015, and not on my deathbed.

Pick a sport - NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football and Basketball. Some have better champions than others. Some are a total farce. Strength of schedule is a ridiculous debate and I don't want United to EVER win a Supporters Shield because they avoided the killer teams in the Pacific Northwest Division or didn't have to make early spring trips to the Not in America Subdivision.

I see 20 - maybe a few more cities in America that can take this game and run with it. When we have 32 or more capable of that - then Promotion and Relegation will be what we have.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | February 26, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Just sayin' -- it won't be home and away in a single table format.

Posted by: fischy | February 26, 2009 10:46 AM

I know - why do it the easy way?

Posted by: Kev29 | February 26, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Several years ago, MLS offered Joey a chance to enter the league for only $10M, and he told them to get bent. Is that the leagues fault too? I don't think so.

And I-270? A Taco reference? That rules! You're okay in my book, no matter what else anyone says about ya. :)

Posted by: SonicDeathMonkey | February 26, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Just sayin' -- it won't be home and away in a single table format.

Posted by: fischy | February 26, 2009 10:46 AM

I know - why do it the easy way?

Posted by: Kev29 | February 26, 2009 11:10 AM
__________________________________________

The same question could be asked of any other major team American sport, all of which, as I noted earlier, moved away from single-table competition many decades ago. There must be advantages to not doing things "the easy way." In fact, at this stage of its development, MLS needs regional competition more than more established leagues in other sports do. There just aren't enough fans who are at the point where they would follow the league as a whole, watch a game on BSPN2 that features teams from two distant cities, etc. There hasn't been an NFL franchise in Los Angeles for many years, but I'm sure that NFL telecasts get healthy ratings in that market, despite the lack of a rooting interest (except to the extent that people are transplants from elsewhere). MLS is nowhere near that stage yet. They have to work up from generating interest in the home team to interest in the division/conference to interest in the league as a whole.

Posted by: universityandpark | February 26, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

If MLS reaches 20 teams, may we call the regular season "The Dodecahedron?" If it reaches 30, may we call it "The Semi-Buckministerfullerene" (Half-Buckyball for short)?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 26, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

@ Kosh2: Yeah, Montreal definitely did do the biznez. Cup lay is not league play.

But I would propose to you that the gap is clearly not as big between MLS and USL1 as a lof of people want to think. In some ways, USL clubs success in this tournament or USOC is even more impressive because of the more economic restraints and having to deal with all of the stuff that you mentioned (Montreal and PR have a lot guys called up compared to some of the US clubs).

PR Islanders or another USL1 side taking out reigning MLS champs in preseason isn't necessarily a fluke. The USL guys get after it because they are trying to make a point.

The gap isn't as big as some people make it out to be. That is all that I am saying. There is a reason why the USSF has made MLS the first division in the USL (other than all of it's cash). It just isn't the incredible jump up that it is made out to be.

I would argue that the often very harsh minor league lifestyle makes some of the USL guys tougher in the long run and that the relative depth is deeper for a USL1 side than an MLS side.

USL clubs were dealt a worse hand in CCL and USOC than MLS clubs ever were.

Posted by: yankiboy | February 26, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

YAnkiboy:

but then DCU, a team that didn't make the MLS playoffs, goes to San Juan and beats the Islanders, a team still in the CCL, while basically playing every trialist on the team for a half. So if it's not a fluke when a USL team beats and MLS team in preseason, then you have to consider that DCU is a much deeper team than PRI, right?

Is there a difference between the bottom of MLS and the top of USL? not much of one, really. just like there isn't a big difference between the bottom of the Premier League and the Coke. or Serie A and B. Montreal playing in MLS this season, a full table, would be West Brom. They'll win a couple of matches at home, pick up a few points here and there, put a scare into some other clubs on the road, maybe a couple of draws, but they're not making the playoffs. this is why cups are fun.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | February 26, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Kosh:

I agree. As always, the internet nuts are going over the top. It's one cup run; it has absolutely nothing to do with MLS putting a team in Montreal.

I wondered last night whether Santos would learn from the mistakes of Atlante and Olimpia, who both had a vastly superior team skill-wise, but also came in with much heavier expectations. I also wondered whether Montreal would show up with some wrinkles in what had been a simple but effective plan on canceling that skill gap out.

Both questions were resoundingly answered "no". Santos actually seemed more overconfident than Atlante and Olimpia in the idea that, since the Impact are not as good with the ball, they would just turn up, knock it around, and go home with at worst a draw. Atlante and Olimpia managed to adjust to Montreal well enough to get draws at Stade Saputo, in part because Montreal struggles when their opponent allows them to be the aggressor. Montreal's key result up to last night was a 2-1 win at Olimpia; they only took 5 of 9 points at home in the group stage.

Montreal, meanwhile, is who we thought they were. A couple starters have changed, but their plan is exactly the same as it was. In every CCL game they've played that I've watched (which is at least 5 at this point), their plan revolves around forcing their opponents to play through their weaker players and getting the opponent to focus on the extracurricular stuff rather than the game. Montreal has forced every team I've seen them against into the spots on the field they would rather the opponent have possession, rather than the opponent having possession where it pleases. This drives technically superior teams nuts, because they have the ball the majority of the time, but can't do anything with it. Meanwhile, the opponent finds themselves in a closer game than they should be in against a team that takes pleasure in making their tackles a little heavier than is needed. Note how last night, the Santos back four was as concerned with Roberto Brown's non-soccer involvement and the officiating than they were about helping their team find a goal.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | February 26, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

yankiboy:

You're right that the gap isn't as big as most people thought, but that doesn't mean that there isn't an appreciable gap. Interestingly, the simple, ugly (in my opinion) style of play the USL clubs are using in the CCL out of necessity happens to be kryptonite to the bigger, more skillful clubs they've faced. MLS teams are good enough to at least consider aesthetics; for Montreal and Puerto Rico, the last thing they're considering is playing with style.

I hope MLS teams are learning this lesson, since they're going to be playing knockout games in the preseason for the foreseeable future. Our teams are more built for this style than the rest of CONCACAF; we might as well level the playing field. As much as I loathe that style of play, I have an even worse reaction to seeing MLS take credibility shots because they lose to teams that we all know they could beat in mid-season.

***

Follow-up that I cut off post 1:

There is one fact that makes me think of Montreal's progress as a Cinderella run more than anything else: the time the first goal is scored in each game. Think I'm nuts?

Qualifier vs. Real Esteli: Gjertsen 42
Q. @ Real Esteli: 0-0
Group C vs. Joe Public: Pesoli 14
C vs. Atlante: 0-0
C @ Olimpia: Brown 2
C @ Joe Public: Placentino 5***
C vs. Olimpia: Brown 40
C @ Atlante: Gjertsen 4
Knockout round vs. Santos: Sebrango 5
***: Joe Public equalized in the 9th minute, only for the Impact to go back on top just 4 minutes later.

Montreal has never trailed 1-0 in this competition. Furthermore, they've put technically superior teams under immense psychological pressure by scoring so early. 4 times they've scored in the first 5 minutes! Who does that? I'm pretty sure Liminiatis loves the early goals, but I doubt he's in the locker room saying "OK, score the first time we come down the field, and then we're good." You can't legislate for that. What are the odds of a team, over 9 games in a competition, scoring 4 times within 5 minutes of kickoff, and 2 more by the 15th minute? Montreal is on a magical run that, despite their playing above themselves, simply defies logic.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | February 26, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Other discussion boards have recently talked about the the gap between MLS and USL-1 with the recent success of Mtl and PRI. Someone did an analysis. MLS wins about 70% of the matches with USL-1 teams when they play each other. Guess what the win rate is for Bundesliga 1 against 2, about 70%. Let's not forget that Cardiff went to FA Cup final last year. Using the logic that many, not all, USL-1 supporters/MLS bashers use, that means COKE Championship is on par with BPL, right? I am joking there. MLS is 1st flight for a reason, USL, as a league, is not up to the standard, that is why FIFA has always given them 2nd tier status, even when there was no MLS. USL has improved greatly, in my opinion, because of MLS and the higher standard of play on this continent as a result of MLS being here.

Posted by: LWPA | February 26, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and if Saputo wants to play in MLS he needs to pony up $40M USD.

Posted by: LWPA | February 26, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"You're right that the gap isn't as big as most people thought, but that doesn't mean that there isn't an appreciable gap."

Agree 100%.

"Interestingly, the simple, ugly (in my opinion) style of play the USL clubs are using in the CCL out of necessity happens to be kryptonite to the bigger, more skillful clubs they've faced... MLS teams are good enough to at least consider aesthetics; for Montreal and Puerto Rico, the last thing they're considering is playing with style."

In my opinion, you are giving MLS clubs way too much credit for the asthetics. As a DCU fan since 96 and an MLS fan, I have seen a bunch of ugly games. Thank goodness, DCU wasn't on the ugly side for the overwhelming majority of those games. When a lot of MLS clubs have played Mexican clubs and some of the elite Central American clubs, it hasn't looked much different to me. Asethetics seemed to go out of the window and survival and trying to get a good result kicked. Which I am cool with because it's not a beauty contest.

Great stuff on the Quebecois side scoring early. I have seen all of the CCL games and I never thought about that aspect...

Posted by: yankiboy | February 26, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Is there a difference between the bottom of MLS and the top of USL? not much of one, really. just like there isn't a big difference between the bottom of the Premier League and the Coke. or Serie A and B. Montreal playing in MLS this season, a full table, would be West Brom. They'll win a couple of matches at home, pick up a few points here and there, put a scare into some other clubs on the road, maybe a couple of draws, but they're not making the playoffs. this is why cups are fun.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | February 26, 2009 11:53 AM

Cups are fantastic. Gotta love them.

In the CCL games, USL sides benches have been more successful than the MLS reserves. Clark and Montreal plugged guys in and they didn't choke like a lot of the MLS reliant reserved sides did.

Posted by: yankiboy | February 26, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else see reports that the first Mtl score was an "own goal". That's what I thought when I saw the replays but everyone went on like Sebrange scored it so I thought, OK. Some Cdn press are saying a santos defender put it in, which is what I thought I saw as well.

Posted by: LWPA | February 26, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

One report quotes the Montreal player saying that it went off a defender, but he's happy to take credit.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 26, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

much obliged, Yankiboy. I had been told by a USL official that they released the Sounders name after negotiations. I presumed that meant they owned the names. And you're right, some MLS clubs have worked out their own deals with USL, but I was suggesting a formal, league-wide deal. Great info in your posts. Thanks.

Posted by: troy6 | February 26, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I hope the USL model survives and the MLS teams are the ones' ponying up $40 mil to join USL. That would be hilarious. The experiment with Garber is over... He hasn't worked with US Soccer, Soccer Canada, or the best interests of the league in terms of improving soccer in North America. We'd be further along if we had Alexi Lalas in charge for Christ's sake. Time for Garber to go. Hiring him was like putting the wolves in charge of the hen-house. The NFL, et. al. don't want the competition so we have a former NFL boy running the show. Again, Garber needs to go.

Posted by: fcmuenchweiler | February 26, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

@fcmuenchweiler

"He hasn't worked with US Soccer, Soccer Canada, or the best interests of the league in terms of improving soccer in North America" OK, seriously, not saying he is the best ever, but you have not noticed an improvement of the game on this continent over the last decade or so? Really? What are you 14?

Posted by: LWPA | February 26, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and you really think USL is going to surpass MLS? Do you know that the third team in a 12 month period is about to fold in USL? You really think their way is best?

Posted by: LWPA | February 26, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

LWPA, Please don't do the classic blog/message board mistake and throw insults out at posts that you didn't entirely READ. The operative word in the post is HOPE. "I HOPE the USL model survives and the MLS teams are the ones' ponying up $40 mil to join USL." Not saying I believe that it will happen. Look, MLS needs to drop the fee entirely for Montreal as the sum of the parts are greater as a whole than them each being separate. Saputo knows this. Garber should know this, but is reverting back to his NFL ways. Having 55,571 fans on a Wednesday night in a CONCACAF Champions League match against Santos Laguna would NEVER happen in any MLS city.

Further on Donnie G, while I agree that soccer in the country is better, we would've been much further along with someone that has a bigger passion for the game. Look, I threw the NFL/MLB accusation out there not because I necessarily believe he's on the take by them, but moreso to question his passion and loyalty to the sport...WHICH, given his lack of those qualities, definitely works in the competition's favor.

Posted by: fcmuenchweiler | February 27, 2009 2:10 AM | Report abuse

I stand corrected. You HOPE that a league with 2, about to be 3 (maybe), franchises folding in a 12 month period will outstrip MLS in the future. Got it. And once again, how old are you? I'm now thinking 12. And the price is $40 M. No money, then go stay in 2nd tier.

Posted by: LWPA | February 27, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company