CONCACAF Champions League Preview: MLS vs Liga MX (Mostly)

Posted By Peter Nolan on March 10, 2020

Major League Soccer resumes its so far futile pursuit of CONCACAF Champions League glory Tuesday night in Montreal when Thierry Henry’s Impact play host to Honduran club CD Olimpia.

Montreal is the only MLS side to face a non-Mexican team in this year’s quarterfinal round, sharpening focus on Major League Soccer’s seemingly eternal quest to gain ground on Liga MX, Mexico’s top flight.

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MLS Flop vs Liga MX

Facing this same circumstance last year, MLS teams lost each of the three games played versus Mexican clubs while Sporting Kansas City advanced with a victory over Independiente from Panama.

SKC was then smoked by a 10-2 aggregate by eventual champions Monterrey.

MLS will be hoping for better this year.

Montreal (-112) | Draw +275 | Olimpia (+270)
Tuesday, March 10
8:00 PM ET
Stade Olympique
FS1 · TUDN · TSN1 · RDS

Hot Start for Henry

Life in MLS has gotten off to a pretty good start for the team’s new coach Thierry Henry, whose early success is more in line with the Frenchman’s reputation as a savvy soccer mind as opposed to his dismal, and brief spell in charge of Monaco.

Henry’s Impact advanced to this stage of CCL play via away goals after a 2-2 aggregate series score versus Costa Rica’s Saprissa. The Impact has followed up with one win and one draw in MLS, defeating New England at home before allowing a late equalizer at Dallas and settling for a 2-2 tie.

NYCFC +160 | Draw +220 |  Tigres UNAL +175
Wednesday, March 11
8:00 PM ET
Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.
FS2 · TUDN

NYCFC – Where are the Goals?

Following a decisive two legged victory over San Carlos to advance to the quarterfinals of CCL, reality set in for New York City FC and their new coach Ronny Deila with a pair of uninspiring 1-0 losses to kick off the MLS season.

Back to back 0-1 defeats to Columbus and Toronto were not what NYC fans expected from a team loaded with offensive talent and led by a Deila, who announced his philosophy when he said, “I’d rather win 5-4 than 1-0.”

At this point I am sure that 1-0 victory is looking pretty good. NYC get a break in that Tigres is not exactly tearing up Liga MX, sitting in 12th place after nine matches, although former French World Cup star Andre Gignac will bear watching. Gignac is second in Liga MX with seven goals.

Club América -200 | Draw +315 | Atlanta United +550
WED, MAR 11
10:30 PM ET
Esatdio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
FS2 · TUDN

Rematch – This Time at Azteca

Atlanta United know they can beat America, The Five Stripes did just that to win the second ever Campeones Cup last year at Mercedes Benz Stadium. But can Frank de Boer’s side conquer the fabled Azteca?

And can they do it without their talismanic striker Josef Martinez? In facing America Atlanta go against a team sitting third in Liga MX just two points back of table-toppers Cruz Azul.

Emerson Hyndman has stepped up as an unexpected source of goals for Atlanta, with a goal in each MLS United game, including a Goal of the Week effort versus Nashville in week one. Oddly enough Atlanta has won each of its first two matches, versus Nashville and Cincinnati by 2-1 scores with Hyndman and Ezequiel Barco scoring in each match.

That duo will require some help with the scoring load if Atlanta is to go anywhere this season minus Martinez. Pity Martinez will need to chip in and backup striker Adam Jahn will get his chance to shine.

LAFC -109 | Draw +265 |  Cruz Azul +275
THU, MAR 12
10:30 PM ET
Banc of California Stadium. Los Angeles, Ca.
FS2 · TUDN

Battle of Giants

LAFC will face first place Cruz Azul in what should be a worthy battle of regional giants. The 2019 Supporters Shield winners have supplied plenty of thrills so far this season. Sunday’s 3-3 home draw versus Philadelphia was a back and forth thriller that saw L.A. come back three times.

This followed L.A.’s historic second leg comeback from 0-2 to defeat Mexican club Leon 3-2 and advance to this matchup with Cruz Azul.

Carlos Vela has scored two beautiful goals in MLS play but Bob Bradley’s defense has been far from rock solid and questions are being asked about new L.A. goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer after the Dutchman was beaten on 40 yard free kick by Philadelphia center back Jakob Glesnes.

Yes, Glesnes hit a wonder strike but you don’t often see a keeper beaten from that distance.

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Written by
Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan has been on the soccer beat for many years now, covering the United States Men's and Women's teams, from the SnowClasico to Azteca and back again. Along with the US national teams, Peter will provide insight into the MLS and NWSL, with a focus on the NY Red Bulls and NYCFC.

View all posts by Peter Nolan
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