As far as continental cup competitions go, the CONCACAF Champions League is still riding shotgun in the struggle bus. As a tournament, it has value as a sort of wacky collision between Central American teams nobody outside those countries ever sees, heavily supported Mexico teams and more lightly but still significantly followed MLS sides.
Personally, I can attest to the competition’s madness. In August 2015, I was in house in Seattle to witness one of the wildest games of soccer I’ve ever seen – in any venue, continent or competition. Honduran outfit Olimpia snagged a shock 1-0 lead in the fifth minute (via recently signed Houston Dynamo wide man Alberth Elis) and then retreated to its bunker for the duration. It looked as though they’d hammer Seattle out of the competition when, in the 90th minute, Erik Friberg scored an equalizer while Olimpia midfielder Rommel Quioto, who’d been booed and then responded by antagonizing the crowd for time wasting, was watching from the sideline.
Every year, the return of CONCACAF Champions League play consistently triggers the debate of the tournament’s format, MLS’ need to actually win the thing and excuses as to why they don’t.
The quarterfinal matchups for 2016 are particularly compelling because four MLS teams find themselves up against four Liga MX sides. In the never ending quest to catch up with Liga MX, MLS finds ways to minimize the implications of playing club teams south of the border. Tuesday’s results were mixed: D.C. United lost 2-0 on the road against Queretaro, and Seattle conceded a soft goal late in the second half to draw 2-2 against Club America.
There was one clear highlight from Tuesday, aside from the new turf in Seattle. Clint Dempsey curled in this tasty free kick to open the scoring in the Pacific Northwest.
Does this matter? I feel like this matters. But I’m not entirely certain.
MLS clubs have had a dire go of it in CCL play since the league was restructured in 2008. Either Atlante, Pachuca, Monterrey, Cruz Azul or Club America have won all seven, which, you’ll notice, are all Liga MX clubs. Cool. Liga MX > MLS. We get it.
Something seemed to snap, though, when the dire (dire!) Montreal Impact made a run to the CCL finals last year and nearly upset Club America in a hard-and-fast finale. America ended up winning 5-3, but the Impact put up one hell of a fight not long after finishing a 2014 season the club would rather toss on the burning trash heap of forgotten history.
Before this season, MLS teams had never chalked up a group stage sweep. Until now. This just happened.
A Toronto FC fan in a sharing mood hurled a beer can at David Beckham last night (the video above doesn’t show the offense, only the verdict, sorry). It happened with the Englishman taking a corner kick during the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match between the Galaxy and Toronto.
Now here’s the teachable moment where we all lean in close and learn a little something; maybe about Beckham, maybe about ourselves (you listening, Ron Artest??)
A clearly ticked off Beckham didn’t run into the stands (and then, in the most ironic move ever, change his name to Metta World Peace). He didn’t punt the can off a fan’s head and yell out: “drink responsibly!”
Nope. Beckham just coolly took the corner kick and found Landon Donovan for a goal that tied the game 2-2.
Well, then he let loose a little, yelling a few things back at the fans – but hey, he earned it! I can’t read his lips, but I would imagine a quick-witted Beckham said something like:
“I don’t drink beer! But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis! … punk.”