The Death of SuperLiga

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 | View Comments
-Jason Davis

Some will call it a mercy killing. The New York Post's Brian Lewis tweeted this morning that Red Bulls coach Hans Backe was told by GM Erik Soler not to expect SuperLiga to happen in 2011. On top of Columbus technical director Brian Bliss sharing the same news last week, it looks like the tournament everyone loves to hate might finally be put to rest.

The move makes sense from a competitive standpoint; with the league schedule expanding but the competition window squeezed, shoehorning in SuperLiga would stretch participating teams in truly adverse ways. MLS has continually stated that it wants to reduce the strain on clubs. Playing SuperLiga after all that talk would come off as hypocritical.

But mourn the death of SuperLiga at least a little, because the event did have some benefit. A cross-border initiative meant to raise the profile of MLS clubs in Mexico, and with Mexican soccer fans living in the US, is a worthwhile endeavor. MLS can only benefit if teams prove they can compete, on any level, with Mexican teams on the field. The Champions League continues to be a serious problem, especially when MLS teams go to Mexico - SuperLiga tilted the playing field in the American clubs' direction, giving them a chance to come out on top every once in awhile. While that makes it less important as a meaningful competition, the ends might have justified the means in some ways.

Most of the fans that complained about SuperLiga did so because it seemed and artificial. From Major League Soccer's perspective, the tournament served an important purpose.

From L.E. Eisenmenger's recent interview with MLS executive VP Dan Courtemanche:

SuperLiga is a property that has provided value to us in the past and clearly elevated the profile of MLS and the clubs among the what will soon-to-be more than 50 million Hispanics in the United States, a large majority of those being soccer fans. It’s certainly impacted that audience and there have been many positives with SuperLiga regarding it’s future that are still under consideration.

There's a fine line between conjuring trophies out of thin air so that more clubs will have something win and establishing a legitimate competition that is truly worth winning for both clubs and fans. Perhaps MLS/SUM failed on that front with SuperLiga, but that doesn't mean the tournament was a total failure.

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