CONCACAF must emerge from shadow

BY Kyle McCarthy • September 26, 2012

But such a reform would come at a great cost to the overall development of soccer in the region. The current setup creates an incentive for clubs outside of Liga MX and MLS to build strong squads, claim a place in continental competition and pursue a place in the Club World Cup. Although Mexican sides have lifted every Champions League title since the tournament adopted its current format, they will not win every year and their success does not negate the competitive benefits created for smaller sides.

Several remedial measures – including finding ways to improve competitive balance in the group stage and the Mexico-dominated knockout round, highlight the occasional successes of unheralded clubs and promote genuine Liga MX and MLS involvement in the group stage – would help the competition take the necessary steps toward that goal. Yet even those revisions will not provide a instant solution.

It will take some time to convert skeptical supporters here. It will take even longer to foster the devout following enjoyed by the UEFA Champions League. But the CONCACAF Champions League deserves attention on its own merits, and possesses the necessary pieces to command it.

The hardest part of the process? Finding a way to sell the CONCACAF Champions League and getting people to invest in it emotionally. Once those two objectives are satisfied, this tournament may finally find a way to emerge from the overwhelming glow of its more famous counterpart and receive the spotlight it warrants.