Monday, May 21, 2007

DC United invited to Copa Sudamericana

The Black and Red are hanging with the big boys now! They were officially invited to La Copa Sudamericana earlier today. There had been a question as to which MLS team would get the nod. Both United and the Houston Dynamo went out in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup earlier this year, so it left to the powers that be to decide which club would get the invite. In the end, United was invited based on their larger goal differential in the CCC. So where does that leave them? It leaves them on the precipe of a match with one of the bigger names of futbol in the Western Hemisphere.

So what is the Copa Sudamericana you ask? Let me enlighten you. It's basically the second most important club competition in South America, behind only Copa Libertadores. Most people would compare this tournament to the UEFA Cup in Europe, but the interesting fact about Sudamericana is that clubs can compete in both Sudamericana and Libertadores in the same year, making the competition in the two tournaments closely matched.

CONMEBOL has been inviting CONCACAF teams to their little party since 2005. DC United is actually the first and only MLS team to have play in the Sudamericana. In 2005, they fell to Universidad Catolica of Chile in the Rd of 16 (the first non-qualifying round).

The list of clubs in this year's tournament is a who's who of South American futbol. From Argentina comes Boca Juniors, River Plate, and defending Apertura Champions Estudiantes. Brazil is sending a staggering EIGHT CLUBS to the tournament, including defending Serie A Champions Sao Paulo. Millonarios of Columbia, El Nacional of Ecuador, and Universitario of Peru are just a few more of the notable clubs in this year's tournament. Mexico had two teams invited including the defending Sudameriana Champion, Pachuca FC; the same team that just captured the recently completed CONCACAF Champions Cup.

The thought of DC United taking the pitch at La Bombonera, the infamous home ground of Boca Juniors, makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It also gives me an excuse to post some videos of La Doce, the supporters group of Boca, and one of personal favorites.

Um, 'intense' would be a lame description of these guys and their home.

The draw for the tournament is Tueday. Stay Tuned.

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