Monday, December 28, 2015

The Mexican Exodus

It's still early in the MLS offseason, but already four MLS regulars have made moves south of the border to join first division teams in Mexico. Juninho (Tijuana), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Luis Gil (Querétaro) and Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna) will all be in different jerseys next season with Villafaña and Gonzalez joining Champions League sides from Liga MX. While this is a positive move for U.S. Soccer with Gonzalez, Villafaña and Gil all with some level of National Team experience, it doesn't do a lot for MLS's Champions League aspirations. The Galaxy lose both Juninho and Gonzalez from their 2015-16 Champions League run and could now conceivably have to play against Villafaña in the CCL Knockout Round. Not only that, the Timbers won't have Villafaña for their run in the 2016-17 Champions League. Similarly, Real Salt Lake is also still alive in the 2015-16 Champions League and they will have to move forward without Luis Gil. A Champions League title continues to prove elusive for MLS and as long as players in their prime (Gonzalez is the oldest of the four at age 27) are transferring south instead of north, it will continue to be an uphill battle for MLS clubs.

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