Last night, I threw out a rather terse post about how I didn't buy into the idea of the supposed "CONCACAF Champions League curse." It was at the end of a rather taxing shift and I was, perhaps, a little more flip than I intended it to be. With nearly 24 hours to think it over, I'd like to clarify a few things.
1. It's almost undeniable that there is some effect on teams that have to play more games. It was not my intent to discount the idea of there being any effect at all.
2. What I do find ridiculous is the way every time a team loses a playoff, announcers and pundits make it sound as if evil fixture congestion is to blame. Some would have us believe that if teams just played fewer games than all would be right in the world.
Playing a bunch of extra games is harder, obviously, but that's kinda what makes winning multiple championships in a season so difficult and impressive. But that doesn't make it impossible.
It's worth pointing out that the 2009 Houston Dynamo actually managed to win a round in the playoffs despite playing six CCL group stage games and three U.S. Open Cup games. But that's not even the best example of my point.
It's also worth noting that the 2007 Dynamo actually won the MLS Cup after playing in four CONCACAF Champions Cup matches, three North American SuperLiga matches and one U.S. Open Cup match. That was one more match than their conference semifinal opponent, eight more matches than their conference finals opponent and four more matches than the team they faced in the MLS Cup.
In 2005, the Los Angeles Galaxy won the MLS Cup after winning the Open Cup. In each round of the playoffs, they beat teams that had played at least two fewer games than them.
I point this out not to illustrate that playing extra games are meaningless, but to illustrate the idea that playing extra games is not mutually exclusive to winning the MLS Cup. It's also to say that if the Sounders or Galaxy -- and to a lesser degree the Rapids -- fail in their quest to win the cup that it isn't mainly the fault of playing in CCL.