New England Soccer Today

Torn Allegiances?

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

When, if ever, is it OK to cheer a league rival team during continental competition?

Recently, I got into a Twitter spat with a Benfica supporter over the fact I support all Portuguese teams during Champions/Europa Leagues. Now, I know not everyone agrees or thinks like me on this one. To me, it is about prestige, pride in our league (Portuguese Liga), but more importantly, our league’s rankings in the UEFA Coefficient.

The Portuguese League is currently ranked fifth in Europe, ahead of France. Fourth, fifth, and sixth place in the Coefficients all get three Champions League and three Europa League spots, and with seventh place for behind them (two Champions League spots), what difference does it make? Why cheer on Benfica, Porto, or another much smaller club when it comes to Europe? It’s not like I WANT to see Benfica or Porto win the league title or the FA cup.

To some fans, it is just deep hatred for all their league rivals. If their team is not in it, then forget everyone else. Some would rather see the league drop in the standings if it means their rivals lose. To some, the coefficients means nothing because it doesn’t help their league. How does it help your league if the teams competing on behalf of it just lose anyways? #smallleagueproblems

To Benfica and Porto fans, what difference does any of this make when your team qualifies for Champions League every year? Does it matter? Right now, it may not, at least in the view of some. But if in a few years, what happens if the league drops and suddenly finishing second in the league isn’t good enough to automatically qualify for the Champions League? I’m sure some of those same fans will sing a different tune.

Sometimes, when find myself in the company of these zealous minds, I can’t help but ask: do MLS fans feel the same about their sides? Is it OK for Revs fans to cheer on, say DC United, or Seattle during the CONCACAF Champions League? Am I dumb, or less of a fan, if I do?

CONCACAF does not have a coefficient, or some kind of rankings to determine how many teams represents a league. Every year, Mexico and and the United States each get four teams, Canada gets one with the winner of the Canadian Championship. So with no rankings to worry about, why should I not cheer another American team?

One argument I will make is league prestige. Sure, MLS will attract more European players than the Mexican or Costa Rican leagues, but how can MLS say it is the best league in CONCACAF when our teams cant even make the semis of the only continental tournament in our federation?

Since CONCACAF started their own Champions cup/league in 1962, only DC united (1998) and LA (2000) won this tournament for America. The last MLS team to simply make a finals since? Real Salt Lake in 2011. The Mexican sides have just dominated this tournament. Since the league reformat in 2008, MLS is 75-67-41, and Mexico 143-54-45, and has won every year, with all but one season which two Mexican teams have met in the finals.

Should we cheer on other MLS teams when competing in the CONCACAF Champions League? Considering how poorly MLS has done in the tournament, and how much Mexican teams have taken over when it comes to continental glory, I say yes. Yes!

Of course, this is just my take on it: what do you think? Is it acceptable for MLS fans to root for the rivals of their clubs in CONCACAF Champions League?


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