Give the Concachampions a Chance

This is a big week for world-wide footie. Here in the Americas, we get a swimming chance to dust off the ol” “I got a migraine” excuse. Find your nearest clinic, then go watch a double dose of some Champions League. After watching the best soccer on the planet, I can’t think of a better night cap, a digestif, if I may, than the best North America, Central America, and the Caribbean have to offer.

Teams like Impact, Pumas, Dynamo or Marathon may not have the caché of their CL counterparts. But it’s our little cup, so why not embrace it?

The folks in Montreal Have. 42 000 tickets have been sold for their home tie vs. Santos. The good news for Santos is that they’ll face the impact in cozy Olympic Stadium. Santos is walking into a real live game. It would be a shame if Santos displayed the lack urgency as in the group stages. Home cookin’ got them through to the quarters, and they’ll make it through to the semis after Montreal gives them a real good scare.

The most compelling match pits Dynamo against Cancun’s Atlante. Atlante has been in Cancun for a few years. It is a real shame that they haven’t created any kind of momentum to build a cozy little stadium right smack in the zona hotelera. A 35K stadium right on the edge of those sugary white beaches would make for one hell of a TV beauty shot. It would also be a great big piece of the puzzle that would put Mexico in better position to host future FIFA tournaments. The stadium they have now is a complete joke. They sell ad-space for tourism on the uniform, but nothing would be a better ad than a seaside stadium.

The best quarterfinal is a DF derby: Pumas and Cruz Azul. It’s puzzling that their rivalry is so flaccid. They have a history of knocking each other off, they split two epic finals in the late 70s, and their stadiums (now) are only a few miles apart. Lately, Cruz Azul has made it a habit of beating Pumas, including the last liguilla. Pumas paid a little more than lip service to the Concachampions in the group stage, fielding mostly reserves. Based on their current run of futility, UNAM could stand to field a full strength squad. I’m a pumas fan, so I’ll pull for them, but I don’t think they’ll get past La Maquina.

I have enjoyed the first edition of the expanded Concachmapions. It will only make the area stronger. And as far as Mexico is concerned, the more they see that the region’s squads are pretty decent, the less arrogant they’ll be. Nothing is more humbling than a whipping. It may not compare to the Champions League, but in our little corner, it’s a chance to get a trophy and ticket to see what you can do against the best. Maybe one day in Cancun.