Soccer  > General Soccer  > Lack of Competitiveness in CONCACAF
March 12, 2010, 12:41 AM
There has long been a debate in the US and Mexico over the extent to which the lack of top level competition within CONCACAF hurts the performance of the region's national teams in international competition. Both the US and Mexico are pretty much guaranteed qualification to the World Cup and while others like Honduras and Costa Rica can occasionally put up a tough fight, they have trouble maintaining any kind of consistency.

But if this is a problem for CONCACAF's men's national teams, there is at least a little competition at that level. Events this week got me thinking about just how much worse the situation is at the club level and in women's soccer.

First, the final rounds of the Concacaf Champions League began on Tuesday and once again it looks likely to become another all Mexican affair. It's true that Maraton did get a good home result against UNAM in San Pedro Sula, but they still have a way to go before we can consider them a serious threat to break the Mexican hegemony in this tournament. As for the MLS clubs, most of them got eliminated in the early rounds (as usual) and it will take a miracle for Columbus to pull out a win in its series after having dropped points at home.

We have to go back to 2004 and 2005 to find the last time the Mexicans failed to win the Conca Champions (losing out to Costa Rica's Alajuela and Saprissa in successive years). Since then it's just been a question of which Mexican club takes the tournament more seriously by giving it priority over the domestic league. In practice, this has meant a Mexican club towards the bottom of the table that has already given up on making the playoffs.

No wonder Concacaf had done so poorly in the last few World Club Cups. There is no excuse for not getting at least third place in that tournament, but the last CONCACAF club to do so was Saprissa some five years ago. Can anyone really argue that a thoroughly mediocre Atlante side was the best that the region had to offer last year?

Unfortunately, this situation is unlikely to change as long as the Mexican clubs have no real regional opposition that gives the Conca Champions a higher profile. Unfortunately, the top Costa Rican clubs are no longer able to hold on to their better players now that they are much more marketable in Europe and I don???t see any signs of the MLS challenging the Mexicans anytime soon. In sum, the situation is pretty bleak.

(Continued in next post)


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