Red Bulls ambitious about Champions League, favor schedule change



MLS teams failed to win the CONCACAF Champions League for another year after its four remaining teams were eliminated in the quarterfinals this week.

It is beginning to become a tradition for MLS teams to falter in the Champions League’s later stages.

However, there may be hope. Reigning MLS goalkeeper of the year Luis Robles believes the New York Red Bulls can break the league’s drought.

“I absolutely want this organization to not only advance to the knockout stage, not only get to the final — but to win this thing,” Robles said. “If that means that we’re the first MLS team to ever do it, great, that’s fine.

“Our mentality going into this year is to win, win a lot, win often and win as many games as possible and as many trophies as possible…I’m confident looking at the characters and the leadership in this locker room, that is something that inevitably will happen.”

The Red Bulls will be one of five MLS teams that will begin playing in next season’s Champions League later this year. They qualified for the tournament after winning the Supporters Shield in 2015. Only two MLS teams have made the finals of the tournament since it adopted its current format in 2008; Real Salt Lake and the Montreal Impact. While that has caused many in league circles to scratch beards and point fingers, the consensus within the Red Bulls is that the competition’s schedule is not compatible with MLS’ schedule.

“Does the group stage need to start in the February – March period, does it need to run parallel to MLS so that every team is starting out kind of in that early stage and you’re playing in the quarterfinals and the finals in September and October so it mirrors the MLS season?,” sporting director Ali Curtis said. “I think, that probably gives MLS teams the best opportunity to succeed in that competition because you get better in every phase of the season whether it’s the start, the middle and hopefully you’re peaking at the end, so I believe that is probably the right format.”

Most of the teams in the CONCACAF region are more than a month into their seasons by the time the final stages begin. However, it is only preseason for MLS teams, leaving them at a disadvantage. MLS teams are also constrained by the collective bargaining agreement which restricts their preparation due to mandatory time off during the offseason.

Several reports published in September said CONCACAF is consider switching to a single-year format that would have group stage matches take place in the spring with the final stages held in the fall of the same year. MLS teams would be able to build their fitness through the group stage, which would last about eight weeks. The current format will remain in place for the 2016-17 season, but Robles said the schedule change, if employed, will level the playing field.

“Naturally you want to have the best teams in CONCACAF being represented,” Robles said. “I also think you want to see the best competition and you want to see the best quality of games. In order for that to happen, there has to be a change in the schedule.”

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  • Danny Rivera

    Didn’t the Montreal Impact make the finals as well last year?

  • Not Seth Stammler

    If they do manage to make it to the QF’s in 2017, they will need to take part in a competitive tourney or go to Europe and have a couple of friendlies with their friends at Leipzig and Salzburg. A regular preseason won’t be enough to get them battle ready.

  • slowleftarm

    ambitious yet never can manage win anything – this is not a championship side.

    • slowleftarm

      Doesn’t sound like something the real me would say.

      • slowleftarm

        Plus that statement is false given that RBNY have won the supporters shield two of the last three years.

        • slowleftarm


          • slowleftarm

            I’m not sure why open cup fan isn’t banned from this site – what does he add?

            • Kevin

              why aren’t u banned of the site for cyber bullying the Cosmos blog and every Cosmo article – you should be the frist one banned from the site and will contact EOS to make that happen.

              • slowleftarm

                So it’s “cyber bullying” to point out the hypocrisy of Cosmos fans who simultaneously draw 4k a game to minor league games in a college lacrosse stadium yet proclaim their club the biggest and most important in the US because a defunct club with the same name once employed a washed up Pele? Wow.

            • Opencupfan

              I add the S!

              • slowleftarm

                At least he now admits to being my impostor. Not that it wasn’t obvious already.

            • slowlefttroll

              Troll Brother #1, playing the troll card. Trump-sized outlandishness!!

        • Urfaceccece

          I agree, I feel like the supporters shield is far more important than the playoffs. Although playoffs are where the money is at so I gueeesssss.

          • slowlefttroll

            Follow to the conclusion. Teams loaf into the playoffs. So devalue the Supporters Shield. Of course, if you haven’t won anything in like, forever, at least it’s SOMEthing.