The group stage of the inaugural Superliga Tournament is in the books, and while the event has been about as exciting as could possibly be expected many improvements to the structure of the event are necessary if Superliga is to reach its potential in the future.
Jack Warner, the very controversial head of CONCACAF had pledged a revamp of the CONCACAF Champions Cup into the future, partly one must assume due to the competition from Superliga. CONCACAF under Warner’s leadership has proven inept at providing a consistent qualification or scheduling structure for either the Champions Cup or the Gold Cup, leading me to believe Superliga can actually do the Confederation a favor and replace the Champions Cup, if CONCACAF and FIFA were willing to sanction it as a continental championship.
Here is how to improve Superliga in the future:
- Secure English Language rights for the US. Market. Strangely, the matches were shown live in English in Canada but only in Spanish in the US.
- Expand the event to 16 teams. Six from the USA ( the MLS Cup champion, Supporters Shield winner, the two top point earners from the previous season besides the MLS Cup and Supporters Shield winners, the US Open Cup champion, and an invite), Six from Mexico (Winners and runners-up of the Apertura, the winners and runners-up of the Clausura, and the winners of the Campeón de Copa and Interliga. If teams duplicate, runners-up or invites can be selected.) Three from Central America, based on a selection criteria, and one from the Caribbean.
- Hold the matches in UEFA Cup type form. Home and away matches is too much to ask but if you can rotate home, away, and neutral site games so the competition is fair at the group stage is necessary, including holding matches in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.
- Begin knock out stages in the Quarterfinals.
- Begin the event in March and conclude it before the start of American football season in September. This way you can maximize the interest in the US, and take advantage of the stretch run of the Mexican Clausura season.
- Break the Superliga during the International tournaments of the summer in 2009 and 2010.
Let me add that these changes should be made because of the success of the first Superliga. Unlike typical MLS matches during the summer which tend to be played with little intensity, the Superliga matches had an intensity unmatched in the MLS regular season and often times unmatched in regular season Mexican League matches. That alone is a good sign for the future.