Soccer in the western hemisphere is getting more integrated than ever before. Last week, the football federations of North and South America --- CONCACAF and CONMEBOL respectively --- announced plans for integrated club and international competitions.
Most relevant for Major League Soccer and Orlando City is a new club tournament. The new competition will be. a final four style event featuring the two best teams from each confederation. The tournament is scheduled to debut in 2024.
The specific qualifications for the tournament are still being finalized, but the Athletic reported that it could be the two finalists from the CONCACAF Champions League and the winners of the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana.
This new tournament and this growing connections between the federations is revolutionary for soccer west of the Atlantic.
North American soccer has been rapidly rising over the last decade. The exponential growth of MLS and continued quality of Liga MX has made the CONCACAF club scene better than ever. It was time to start growing in global significance.
The best way to raise the profile of clubs in North America is to get more high-level games against foreign competition. This new tournament will give more opportunities to compete for the title of best American soccer league.
Joining forces between the continents also helps every league compete in stature --- at least some tiny bit --- with the European game. Europe will likely always dominate the global soccer landscape, but a stronger and more interconnected western hemisphere could compete better than either confederation alone.
The news last week mostly affects the international game. More opportunites for CONCACAF teams in the Copa America will give every team in North America more competitive games against elite competition and strengthen both confederations.
This is a common sense partnership that's been rumored and suggested for years. As UEFA explodes in stature and the top European countries and leagues pull away, unity is the best way to keep every footballing region relevant.
MLS will struggle in this competition for a while, maybe a very long time. But the added competition only spurs more growth from each league. There's also the practical benefit of more revenue. There will be a time to discuss the increased games played and the other issues bound to rise from any deal like this, but for the time being this is an extremely exciting development for any soccer fan in the Americas.