We start the soccer news with a new version of an old question. Thanks to Concacaf revamping the Champions League, for the teams most likely to lift the trophy it's now a short-run knockout tournament. Eight games from late February to mid-April to win the championship, rather than first having to navigate a group stage. What that means competitively is not a lot of difference, with MLS and Liga MX teams trying to make it to the final.
Toronto FC has the two-goal lead against Club America (10pm ET - Univision Deportes and the go90 app), but playing at Azteca is its on hurdle regardless of the first-leg score. The New York Red Bulls are a goal down to Chivas (8pm ET - Univision Deportes and the go90 app), but is playing at home. It's a quick point worth making that playing a club like Chivas anywhere in the United States probably means a vocal away support. That's part of the reason why this is still Liga MX's tournament to lose.
It's hard to miss the predictions and scenarios for MLS in the 2018 Champions League. This is Major League Soccer's year, with Toronto and New York already advancing past Liga MX clubs. Lifting that trophy means putting an MLS team in the Club World Cup, a goal for the league at least in theory. In practice, Concacaf's showing at the Club World Cup are a cautionary story about making direct comparisons with the world's elite.
Whether or not the Concacaf Champions League matters that much to MLS teams is still in question. Like some MLS teams and the US Open Cup, there's the feeling of obligation rather than challenge. That isn't helped by Champions League teams having a rough start to their MLS seasons.
Considering the history of the tournament, that's not exactly a criticism of teams that would like a little more reward before shifting resources and tactics toward the region rather than MLS. The knock against that group stage was low attendance and clubs opting to test their depth especially on the road. Liga MX is no different. The big crowd at Chivas last week took advantage of an incredibly low ticket price to watch what should be the highest level of club soccer in the region. It's not, and that's a big part of the problem for Concacaf. The domestic league taking priority is an issue the Champions League has yet to overcome.
The Washington Post's Steve Goff reports on an ownership change for DC United. The Cincinnati Enquirer's Sharon Coolidge relays Jesse Jackson's concerns over the proposed site of FC Cincinnati's stadium and gentrification in the city.
The South China Morning Post's Andy Mitten looks at potential expansion for Manchester United's stadium. FourFourTwo reports on the player strike at Greek club Panathinaikos. Inside World Football's Andrew Warshaw relays La Liga president Javier Tebas's opinion on PSG's spending spree. AP has former Milan and England coach Fabio Capello retiring after coaching a club in China. The NY Times' Tariq Panja reports on a mooted a proposal to buy an expanded Club World Cup and a global Nations League from FIFA.
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