Major League Soccer wins battles but not war

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Ahead of the Philadelphia Union and Club America showdown on Wednesday, Major League Soccer scored some key results against its neighbors south of the border. While the men’s and women’s national teams are the most in the spotlight, the home game remains a huge part of US football culture. In one of the fastest growing soccer nations, fans of the Stars and Stripes want to prove this growth through results. These results have been achieved in specific competitions, but are they enough?

A few weeks ago the MLS All-Stars defeated the Liga MX All-Stars 3-2 on penalties after a regular 1-1 draw in Los Angeles. This showed the star power of both leagues, but the MLS players left the pitch all the more satisfied.

On Tuesday, the Seattle Sounders kept the MLS alive in the Leagues Cup, with Raul Ruidiaz scoring the only goal in a 1-0 triumph over Santos Laguna. This was followed by a more convincing 3-0 win against Tigres in August, which led to a showdown with Club Leon on September 22 at the Allegiant Stadium.

While these little victories were cute, they are just that.

MLS won a few battles, but Liga MX made up another year to win the war.

Jim Curtin’s side had a mountain to climb after a late penalty from Emanuel Aguilera gave Club America a 2-0 lead at Subaru Park in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals. They reflected this result to advance to the finals. It was a perfect performance with a save from Guillermo Ochoa while Union failed to seize their chances. Regardless of who emerges from the other semi-final between Cruz Azul and Monterrey, the trophy will stay in Mexico … again.

Perhaps the bigger hint of Liga MX success in this competition came in the early stages. In the round of 16, Toronto FC advanced 3-2 at the expense of Club Leon, in the only duel between Liga MX and MLS clubs. The quarterfinals were a different story as the remaining Liga MX trio triumphed over their MLS opponents. Philadelphia Union survived a friendly fire that knocked Atlanta United out.

Major League Soccer fans should remain proud of what this nation has become in terms of infrastructure for the sport. That CONCACAF Champions League result can be daunting, but it is a reminder that this is a big world. Winning this competition means competing against the best in Europe and South America at the FIFA Club World Cup, something that Liga MX teams have not often achieved either. It would take a seismic shift to shake up the status quo. But with every game we grow the game. One step at a time. Losing the Philadelpha Union shouldn’t create a defeatist mentality. Profit or loss, the goal is still to grow and improve.

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