We salute the Sounders for almost winning at Santos Laguna in the second leg of a CONCACAF Champions League semifinal Tuesday. Seattle, MLS’s biggest disappointment through the first month of league play, scored an equalizer with ample time to spare and threatened to strike again in the late stages, only to draw 1-1 and fall on aggregate, 2-1.
“Almost” describes MLS in this annual tournament. And unless the Los Angeles Galaxy flips a 2-1 deficit at Monterrey on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer and Galavision), MLS will almost make the FIFA Club World Cup again.
Is playing in the Club World Cup, the prize for winning the regional title, really that important? No. But qualifying for it is. It allows Don Garber to say to his stuffy Euro pals: “Yeah, we know we’re not La Liga, but we have the best team in our humble little corner of the world. And we beat a Mexican club with richer tradition and payroll to do it. So there. See ya in Morocco in December. Couscous on me.”
Winning the CONCACAF trophy (for the first time since the Champions League format was implemented five years ago) would mark progress. It would enhance credibility and expand the league’s brand on a global stage at the FIFA tournament.
It is a good thing.
And the league wants it very badly. To bolster the effort, MLS has provided additional allocation money to participating clubs and, ahead of these second legs, postponed the Sounders’ and Galaxy’s league matches last weekend.
So far, nothing has helped. Only Real Salt Lake, in 2011, has advanced to the modern finals. Every other slot has been filled by a Mexican club.
A league turns its lonely eyes to you, Landon.
*Who will join Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League semifinals? The other slots will be decided today:
Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain, 2:45 p.m. ET (live on Fox Soccer, Fox Deportes and foxsoccer2go.com, tape at 5 on Fox Soccer Plus and at 8 on Fox Soccer). The sides drew, 2-2, in the first leg in France.
Juventus vs. Bayern Munich, 2:45 (live on Fox Soccer Plus and foxsoccer2go.com, tape at 5 on Fox Soccer and at 9 on Fox Soccer Plus). The German club won the opener, 2-0, at home.
*For your travel and viewing purposes: FIFA says the U.S. national team’s World Cup qualifier at Jamaica on June 7 (a Friday) will begin at 8:30 p.m. in Kingston (9:30 ET). BeIN Sport has the exclusive U.S. TV rights. Awaiting confirmation from the Jamaican federation…..
*Americans abroad today:
MF Joe Corona and Ds Edgar Castillo and Greg Garza for Tijuana vs. Millonarios in the Copa Libertadores group finale (9 p.m., Fox Deportes). Tijuana (3-1-1) has already clinched a round-of-16 berth, joining group leader Corinthians.
*Coolest tifo ever? Yeah.