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?


  1. Jim Powers (@jimmystagger)

    March 4, 2015 at 11:58 am

    It’s nice when MLS teams, like Montreal right now, are doing well in the Champions League but I certainly wouldn’t want DC or Chicago to do well in it. It comes down to the team, for me, so in that respect I suppose I am club loyalty vs. league.

    • Nathan Perotti (@NatePerotti)

      March 4, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      Let me second this, it all comes down to the MLS club. In the abstract I want any MLS club to advance, but I can’t root for LA, Houston or Chicago. In their games I am indifferent to the result. The next tier down with DC, RBNY, KC and maybe Seattle I can grudgingly support. Anyone else, I’m all in with TeamMLS.

  2. pauloblitzz

    March 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Absolutely, I find myself routinely supporting clubs that I’m not truly a fan of just because they’re representing the league that my team is in. It’s kind of a ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ thing I guess. It’s also a bit about pride. The Rev’s are not playing in the CL but Montreal and DC are. As a Revs fan I want the Impact and United to do well in that tourney for MLS. I want to see an MLS team win the CL. Obviously it would be great if it was the Revs but that’s not the case. The same would apply for the international league(s) one might follow, usually because of their ethnic or cultural background. I think most people would cheer for country/league as well regardless of the specific club involved. However, unfortunately their are those who’s hatred is too deep that they can’t bring themselves to do it. I think these people’s outlook is a bit off. Too me it just seems foolish but it’s something that’s hard to put your finger on. I will say this though, when Porter scored that goal last night for the Impact vs Pachuca I was jumping for joy. When Benfica loses in international play I don’t like it. I like the suffering of their fans (Porto Fan ) but I would prefer that the team won to better represent Portuguese clubs. That being said when the Rev’s do play MTL I will want us to rip them a new new, especially that punk Mallace (pictured above) who gave Jones the business last season and who also delivered that great pass to Porter last night I believe.

  3. Peter

    March 4, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    BBC football are quoting there will be a strike with mls

  4. jose

    March 4, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    thanks for the comments, how would fans feel if there was a coefficient rankings in CONCACAF? and where would MLS be in those rankings?

  5. Chris B

    March 4, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    It’s interesting to see the different reactions to this idea of rooting for league rivals in continental competitions. I see Serie A and Bundesliga fans rooting for their usual rivals in the Champsions/Europa League all the time, but something like this would be unthinkable in Britain and I’m certain you’ll never see Barcelona fans root for Real Madrid or vice versa.

    As for me, I root for MLS teams in the CONCACAF Champions League. Allez Montreal!

  6. Adrian

    March 5, 2015 at 11:05 am

    I root for all MLS teams in CONCACAF’s Champions League. That’s because I (however dimly) remember a time before MLS. However for Euro teams with serious rivalries in which fans grow up with their team, I can easily understand how they wouldn’t want to root for a rival of Porto even if it benefits them in the long run.

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