Has MLS Caught Up To Liga MX?

It's been quite the rivalry; have they evened the odds?

The talk of whether Major League Soccer has finally caught up to Liga MX is always a hot one. Especially with the Concacaf Champions League semifinals going on right now, LAFC may have the support of a whole league behind it. 

The 2020 MLS All-Star Game, which would have put Liga MX All-Stars against MLS All-Stars was unfortunately canceled due to COVID-19. Also canceled were the 2020 Leagues Cup and 2020 Campeones Cup. The 2021 MLS All-Star Game under the same format is still planned, so fingers crossed everyone. 

Now for the main question: Has MLS caught up to Liga MX? Let’s take a look, for one in the CCL, three MLS teams were eliminated in the quarterfinals stage, two of those at the hands of Liga MX teams. Atlanta United and New York City FC were defeated by Club America and Tigres UANL, and both on quite sizeable margins 3-1 on aggregate and 5-0. 

The only MLS team to beat a Liga MX side? That would be LAFC, led by the Mexican MVP Carlos Vela. Not only did LAFC do it once, they did it twice against champion Club Leon and semifinalist Cruz Azul. They will go up against their third Liga MX side Saturday night when they face Club America.

Secondly, let’s take a look at the champions from each league, Club Leon and Columbus Crew, who won their respective leagues a day apart. 

Leon was the best team from start to finish; they finished first in the regular-season table and only were defeated once. They then defeated second-place Pumas in the final to claim their eighth league title. 

The Columbus Crew captured the hearts of MLS fans with an incredible story from almost being defunct two years ago to MLS champions. The Crew finished third in the Eastern Conference and were defeated six times, although they played more games than Leon. 

Let’s say these two teams faced off in a winner-take-all cup, essentially the Campeones Cup. Personally, I have a hard time picking a winner, I’d give the slight edge to Leon, but honestly, I could see a game between these two sides going down to a penalty shootout. 

Lastly, who’d make the lineups if the All-Star game took place? For Liga MX, you’d get your goal scorers such as Jonathan Rodriguez, André-Pierre Gignac, Jose Juan Macias. 

A similar attack for MLS can be made up of players such as Gyasi Zardes, Raul Ruidiaz and Diego Rossi, and of course, we can’t forget the likes of Javier Hernandez or Carlos Vela, even though they struggled with injuries. I could go on and on about players in both leagues and how they match up; ultimately I’m hoping to see a match such as this in the near future. 

The main thing that sticks out to me is the defending; I gave the edge just a bit to Liga MX. Games in MLS tend to have more goals on average, and given by recent matchups between sides from both leagues, I side with Liga MX by a bit.

So to answer the question if MLS has caught up to Liga MX.

Some MLS teams can definitely beat some Liga MX teams. MLS is still a relatively young league, being only 25 years old; Liga MX has decades upon decades of history. 

Here’s my answer: MLS hasn’t fully caught up, but it’s well on its way there. They may only be years away. If LAFC or any MLS team can take that Concacaf crown away from Mexican teams, then we can start taking a much deeper dive, but for now, all we can do is wait for that team that surely will be idolized by the fans of MLS. 

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