USA and Mexico prepare for SuperLiga launch
LOS ANGELES, July 23 (Reuters) - Record prize money of $1million is on offer at the inaugural SuperLiga, a competition Major League Soccer (MLS) commissioner Don Garber hopes will lift the game in the U.S. and Mexico to unprecedented heights.
The SuperLiga, which starts on Tuesday, is an eight-team tournament featuring four MLS sides from the U.S. and four clubs from the Mexican first division.
'This is no exhibition,' Garber told a news conference in Hollywood on Monday at the SuperLiga's official launch. 'This is a legitimate, athletic competition with serious prize money.
'It will ensure that the fans can enjoy a high-level, serious competition to see who, on a club level, will have the bragging rights in North America, at least between Mexico and the United States.
'It is part of our ongoing quest together to turn this region of North America into a region that can be competitive with Europe, that can be competitive with Africa and other dominating soccer or football regions around the world.'
Garber believes the passionate soccer rivalry which already exists between the U.S. and Mexico will give the SuperLiga an added dimension.
'The U.S. national team has taken on the Mexican national team and we all know what that has done to World Cup qualifying,' he told Reuters.
'We have seen tremendous success with the Mexican national team games that have been produced in large stadiums across our country. We sold out three NFL stadiums in the off-season and that is not something one would ever expect to happen.
'So we started seeing that maybe there was a way of extending from national team programmes to team rivalries. I think it will take a while to grow.
'We are not expecting sellouts, we are not expecting these games to be on the level of Champions League games. This is the beginning of a long-range deal but we are very confident that it will develop over time.'
The MLS teams aiming for the highest winner's purse in North American club history are Los Angeles Galaxy, D.C. United, Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas.
The Mexican challenge is provided by Chivas de Guadalajara, Pachuca, Club America and Monarcas Morelia.
In Tuesday's opening group matches, Dallas host Monarcas Morelia at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco and the Galaxy take on Pachuca at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
A knockout phase will follow the group stage with the final scheduled for Aug. 29 at a venue yet to be decided.