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Morning Ticker: USL keeps rolling, MLS keeps stumbling in CONCACAF Champions League


It was another good night for USL teams and another disappointing showing for MLS teams in the CONCACAF Champions League.

The Montreal Impact faced Mexican power Atlante on Wednesday and posted a 0-0 tie to stay in a tie for first place in its group with Atlante.

D.C. United’s night wasn’t quite as fun. Playing without several key starters, the MLS squad fell, 2-0, to Honduran side CD Marathon in San Pedro Sula. The loss dropped D.C. into last place in its group.

For those of you who have lost track, Wednesday’s results now put MLS teams at a horrendous record of 0-5-2 in the Champions League tournament. As for the USL? The lower division now boasts an unbeaten mark of 5-0-3.

Yes, you read those numbers correctly.

Does it mean that USL is better than MLS? No, I won’t go that far. What it does show is that MLS teams are both ill-equipped and not exactly motivated to perform well in this tournament, not with the MLS playoffs looming and coaches having to choose between a new tournament and success in MLS. This is extremely disappointing considering the opportunity the Champions League provides MLS to show how it stacks up against the rest of the region.

There doesn’t appear to be any such concerns for the USL teams, which are fighting and clawing against tough competition with bigger payrolls, longer history and deeper benches and finding ways to secure results every time.

Yes, teams like New England, Chivas USA and D.C. United have had to deal with rashes of injuries that made these matches that much tougher, but the results still underscore some flaws MLS needs to address. Most notably the fact that an 18-man senior roster just isn’t big enough to put out competitive teams in both MLS play and international competition. Yes, teams have 28-men rosters once you include developmental players, but counting on a group of players that consists mainly of projects and rookies who mostly earn less than $20,000 a year isn’t exactly the formula for success on the international stage.

All is not lost for MLS in this competition just yet. Houston boasts a deep and strong team and has yet to play a home game so there is still hope that the Dynamo can carry the MLS flag deep into the tournament, and at the very least break the winless run MLS is enduring in the competition.

As for Puerto Rico and Montreal, these teams have done wonders for the profile of USL and just might give the league the boost it needs to start attracting more talent and more investment. Something tells me it wouldn’t exactly hurt MLS to start feeling some pressure from the lower league.

What do you think of MLS being winless and USL being unbeaten in Champions League play? Share your thoughts below.


  1. I don’t know if anyone has brought this up, and I could be completely wrong, but aren’t the MLS teams doubling up on games right now, with season play, and then also Champions League? A team that is playing double the games and still playing pretty well in the domestic league isn’t bad. I think the reason for all the losses is a combination of injuries, fatigue, and a lack of importance for these CL games. The coaches and the players want to win the MLS much more than they want to win the CL. I think that that is the main reason for their ability to suck during these games with the rest of America.

    Overall, I really don’t see that we can compare these teams by these international cups. There are too many variables.

    On a side note, I think the MLS is better than USL, but I am not saying the USL is bad, just not as good as the MLS.

  2. We’re missing out on discussing that USL has also proven itself equal if not better than MFL. Right?

    Posted by: undrafted | September 25, 2008 at 06:26 PM


    We’re missing out on discussing that MLS has also proven itself equal if not better than MFL through the $uperliga. Right? *_*

  3. Yankiboy-

    although it may be true in the past, Montreal currently has no players that play for the Canadian national team. There have however been several players that have gone to play for lesser european sides. Regardless, Montreal, and it sickens me to say this, has truly proven itself as the Canadian champion in this competition.

  4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: merge the USL with MLS. Give American soccer multiple divisions with legit relegation and promotion.

  5. USL-1 is topflight in the US and Canada. MLS is a second tier like the Coca-cola Championship, serie B, or other.

    MLS is weak. We need more USL!

    Posted by: NONAME | September 25, 2008 at 05:16 PM


    I hope it stays that way for a while. I’d love to see all of the MLS teams get dumped and all the USL sides get to the knockout portion.

  6. USL-1 is topflight in the US and Canada. MLS is a second tier like the Coca-cola Championship, serie B, or other.

    MLS is weak. We need more USL!

  7. Keep in mind what MLS teams are representing the league in the CCL this year. A poor Chivas team, a mediocre at best DC United team, and a Jeckyl and Hyde New England team that has had all kinds of injuries this year. I still think the Dynamo will get to the Quarters, and they are obviously first in the West. Having Chivas and DC in this year is the equivalent of having West Ham and Bolton representing England in the UCL.

  8. and one final comment about USL: if it’s so much better than MLS, why are people willing to ditch their USL teams for an MLS franchise?

  9. Haig, you know that MLS maintains operational veto control over franchises, right? so when Garber says “if teams don’t want to play” he means “if MLS doesn’t want a team to play” it’s not really an individual choice.

    and even if it was really a choice, you don’t decline a competition.


    “SuperLiga is non-compulsory. If a Mexican team doesn’t want to play or an MLS team doesn’t want to play, they are not required to. It is an invitational tournament.”

    — Don Garber, Aug. 4 2008

    I don’t want to hear about how DC plays too many games.

    The “too many games” problem they are having is entirely their own fault.

    Posted by: Haig | September 25, 2008 at 01:40 PM

  10. The reason why the mls seems dull and less attractive offensively is because the overall skill levels of the players are higher, there fore making it harder to score. The financial baking of mls isn’t something that should be dismissed, that financial backing is the reason why mls is expanding and usl constantly loses teams.

    Posted by: lou | September 25, 2008 at 03:18 PM

    Lou, you make some interesting points.

    I don’t argue that the overall player skill level is higher. And you point about the ca$h is a very good one. It costs 114x what it costs to buy into USL1 (that is about to change to about only 57x-woo hoo). That is before all of the operating expenses. Guys do a lot more due dilligence buying into MLS and have serious ownerships groups put together. USL owners are more likely to have some ca$h to work with and just want to own a team or offer the community profesional soccer. They often don’t do as much due dilligence thinking “I got $5million to play with, I can pull it”. There is sometimes a bit more vanity involved.

  11. christian your wrong. The reason why the mls seems dull and less attractive offensively is because the overall skill levels of the players are higher, there fore making it harder to score. The financial baking of mls isn’t something that should be dismissed, that financial backing is the reason why mls is expanding and usl constantly loses teams.

  12. From what I have seen, the USL sides legs are of course getting weary. They just don’t cry and whine about it like some of the MLS folks do. They go out and they ball with all that they have got. Understanding that it may cost them their USL success.

    Sure the big clubs slept on them. MLS fans sleep on them too. Sure, the draw plays a roll in the success and matchups do as well. So does COACHING.

    MLS underachieving. USL “overachieving”.

    Fine, I can see that.

    So far the USL sides have shown a hell of a lot more HEART than the MLS sides. I freaking love my local side, DC United. I hate the Montreal Impact (it’s an Islanders thing). But Props to the Puerto Rico’s USL “enemies”. Islanders fans have had an emotional rivalry with Charleston Battery. But props to Charleston. Their team and supporters represented themselves and the USL very well in the USOC Final. That game was no blowout. Montreal has done the biznez in CCL to date while pulling themselves from the bottom of the USL1 this season.

    USL is in one of it’s finest moments…

  13. The USL will never have two teams in the CCL group stages again.

    Posted by: John | September 25, 2008 at 11:36 AM

    Bro. Seriously. That is an utterly laughable statement. Do you understand the nature of the tournament, the set up?

    As long as TFC gets outplayed by Montreal or Vancouver, or all of those cities are absorbed into MLS, the Canadian spot will go to a USL side.

    As long as Puerto Rico Islanders can fight through the grueling Caribbean Zone Qualification, to play into the tournament, they have a shot at getting through the group stage.

    What makes you think that this will “never” happen again? Do you have some info about CONCACAF already planning changes for the tournament in the future?

    Do you have any idea that the combined Puerto Rico-Sevilla Bayamon Reserve side (a joint project with Sevilla of Spain) has a current Panamanian international and a

    former Cuban and current Puerto Rican internationals who Clarke has left of our Senior roster? That Islanders have an academy?

    Are you aware that Montreal players get called up for the Canadian National Team and that Montreal players have moved to smaller European first divisions? Or that Montreal has a reserve side?

    Some USL sides are doing a lot more with a hell of a lot less…

    Please elaborate on why you don’t think 2 USL sides will ever make it to the group stages again, I would really love to know.

  14. Again, the USL system should move to promotion/relegation. I understand the logistical challenges, but it could be resolved if the league attracts better investors. I’d love to see the USL continue to outshine MLS for years to come.


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