One match, one Cup, one champion. It’s the best of North America as the champions of MLS and Liga MX face off at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the second annual Campeones Cup. Tigres topped Toronto in the first edition last season, but Atlanta United will be looking to even the series between the two leagues against Club América on Wednesday.
It all kicks off at 8:00 p.m. EST Wednesday on ESPN 2. Click here for all the ways to tune in.
Atlanta United come into the match in great form, rising up the rankings in the Eastern Conference thanks in part to rock-solid play at Wednesday’s venue Mercedes-Benz Stadium. With the possibility of two trophy raises in a month on their home pitch in August, they’ll be eager to represent MLS well against the best in Liga MX.
Of course the recent headlines have been dominated by the play of striker Josef Martinez, who broke yet another MLS record over the weekend with his tenth straight match with a goal. After being named MLS Player of the Month for July, he followed that up with his second MLS Player of the Week nod of the season in the first week of August. But it’s the attack as a whole that is coming together nicely, with Ezequiel Barco back fit in the starting lineup and head coach Frank de Boer calling Sunday’s match Pity Martínez’s best yet for Atlanta United. Julian Gressel is coming off an MLS Team of the Week performance of his own, while Darlington Nagbe continues to be the heartbeat of the team’s possession in midfield. And with Tito Villalba also returning to full fitness, there are plenty of options for the Five Stripes to line up their attack on Wednesday.
Villalba’s presence is just one of several returns to health for an Atlanta United side that is becoming as healthy as they have been all year. This Atlanta United side is as deep as they’ve ever been, with the likes of Mo Adams, Dion Pereira and Jeff Larentowicz all fully capable of stepping in from their recent substitute roles to become full-fledged starters. And with recent Homegrown signing George Campbell making the matchday roster and ready to prove himself, there are plenty of young options to use on Wednesday as well. In all, this is a confident Atlanta United side that is in great form, especially at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. After becoming the only MLS team to get a victory over Liga MX competition in this year’s Concacaf Champions League against Monterrey at home earlier this year, they’re confident in whoever they play at their home fortress –– and they’ll be champing at the bit for the chance to lift trophy number two at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Liga MX may have just started their Fall season earlier this month, but Club América has gotten off to a fast start with three wins and a draw in four matches so far this season. With a deep and talented roster from front to back, they’re sure to be a tough challenge for the Five Stripes on Wednesday.
The headliner in the attack this season has been Ecuadorian winger Renato Ibarra, who is off to a red-hot start. After a combined thirteen goals through his first three seasons in Liga MX, he leads his team so far this year in both goals and assists from the right flank. He’ll be looking to link up with two strikers with European experience in Nicolas Castillo and Roger Martinez, who are each fully capable of chipping in with a match-changing moment of their own. And keep an eye out for two late additions to the squad this season. With French striker Jérémy Menez out of favor, two creative players have come in: Nicholas Benedetti, who was a key player for Colombian giants Deportivo Cali and Giovanni Dos Santos, the Barcelona Academy player MLS fans will know well for his last stop with the LA Galaxy and the Mexican National Team.
But it’s not just in the attack where Club América thrives; they have taken advantage of playing in a league without a salary cap to add depth at every level of the roster. While the departure of Colombian star Mateus Uribe to Portuguese giants Porto just a week and a half ago leaves a hole to fill in midfield, they still have a player with Argentina national team caps in Guido Rodriguez there to lock down the center of the park. But Uribe’s replacement, 22-year-old Francisco Cordova, does lack much first-team experience and could be a weak link for Atlanta United to exploit. The back line is a mix of youth and experience, with two players 22 or under. But with the veteran presence of Bruno Valdez and Mexican star Paul Aguilar filling out the back line, they have plenty of mentorship to keep it together. Finally, while Mexican National Team legend Memo Ochoa just made the move back to Club América after a long spell in Europe, this match comes too soon for him with coach Miguel Herrera ruling him out for this match.
It’s another chance at silverware for Atlanta United against one of the giants of North American soccer, so this is one you definitely won’t want to miss. Click here for tickets, or click here for all the ways to tune in from home.