A week ago, it was impossible for MLS teams to go to Mexico and win a competitive match. Prior to FC Dallas' win over UNAM Pumas in the CONCACAF Champions League last week, MLS teams were riding a 24-match winless streak in Mexico. After the Seattle Sounders beat Monterrey on Tuesday, it's suddenly starting to look mundane. Check out the highlights in all their wonderful glory:
As you can see, it wasn't exactly pretty. The Sounders happened to make good one more opportunity than Monterrey did on this night, but that's how it goes. Prior to last week, though, it never went like this.
If last week served as a bit of a wakeup call to Mexican teams expecting to just walk over their MLS counterparts, Tuesday was proof that it's not as easy as just putting a couple of your starters on the field. Monterrey let some of their biggest names go all 90 minutes and still came up short. Even more than last week's win, this might be the one that really proves to be the game-changer.
It's games like this one that will really get the attention of the casuals on both sides of the border. It's games like this one that show MLS teams can build squads deep enough to compete in multiple tournaments. It's games like this one that could really herald the beginning of new kind of rivalry in North America.
Real Salt Lake's CCL run was a big step in that direction. Dallas' win was another. The Sounders' win kinda feels like it might be the tipping point.
At this point, there's still no question that Mexican Primera teams are, generally speaking, better than their MLS counterparts. But that gap is shrinking, and it's probably already smaller than many of us have long believed.
The day when Mexican teams consider matches against MLS sides to be among their most important of the season might not be such an impossible thing. The day when MLS teams go to Mexico expecting to win might cease to be a thing of fantasy. These days are not yet here, to be sure. On a day like this, though, we don't need to apologize for predicting their eventual arrival.