The Fire will kick off their first appearance in the annual SuperLiga tournament on Saturday night when they play host to Mexican side San Luis at Toyota Park.
Prior to the Fire getting into what will be the third edition of SuperLiga, I really didn't know too much about the tournament. But after some intense research, I garnered some knowledge and here it is. What teams made the tournament?
The Fire, the New England Revolution, Chivas USA, and the Kansas City Wizards
From the Mexican First Division:
San Luis, Santos Laguna, Tigres UANL, and Atlas
How did the teams qualify?
Firstly, SuperLiga is only open to teams from MLS and the Mexican First Division. For the 2009 tournament the top teams in each league who did not qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League were eligible to participate.
This rule eliminated the top two finishers from the MLS regular season (Columbus and Houston), MLS Cup runners up (New York), and the U.S. Open Cup champs (D.C.). In Mexico, the winners and runners-up of the 2008 Apertura and Clausura (Toluca, UNAM, Cruz Azul, and Pachuca) were ineligible for participation.
This meant that in MLS, the regular season teams who finished in 3rd-6th place will be participating in the tournament. In Mexico the regular season winners (San Luis) and the 5th, 7th, and 8th place teams (Santos Laguna, UANL, and Atlas, respectively) were chosen.
What is the tournament's format?
The tournament has two groups, each comprised of four teams. Each team plays all the other teams in the group once and the top two teams at the end of the group stage qualify for the semifinals.
The semifinals and championship rounds are both one-game affairs (no aggregate stuff here) so once you get past the group stage it's pretty straightforward.
Here are the individual groups.
Group A - Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, San Luis, Tigres UANL
Group B - New England Revolution, Kansas City Wizards, Santos Laguna, Atlas
Where will the tournament be played?
The tournament is played exclusively in the U.S. and it takes place at the home stadiums of the MLS teams in the tournament.
Why play in the tournament?
In short, the teams do it for the money. SuperLiga's website bills the tournament as having "one of the biggest purses in the region" and the winner will get a sizable reward.
What will be the impact on the Fire?
SuperLiga will be a good opportunity for the Fire to see how they stack up against foreign competition and will possibly provide an opportunity for some non-regulars to strut their stuff.
On the other side of the coin, SuperLiga may also wear the Fire down a bit. But due to the little break in the Fire's MLS schedule (they're next league game is on July 4th) the tournament shouldn't have too much of an impact on the Fire's fitness.