Club America made a statement in their opening game of the 2023 Leagues Cup – and sent one of Major League Soccer’s best in St. Louis City packing after a 4-0 thumping on their home turf.
Although St. Louis City are a first-year side in MLS and have had several injury problems, they’ve still managed to stay at the top of the Western Conference with 41 points after 23 games played to make Club America’s win that much more impressive.
On the other hand, America haven’t had the best run through their first three games of the 2023 Apertura season, sitting in 12th place on three points. But form goes out of the window in tournaments, and this game was no exception.
St. Louis City had no answers for the Liga MX giants, as the Eagles controlled the game with 62% possession and had 16 shots to St. Louis’ nine. It was a telling moment for MLS, as one of their conference leaders were no match for one of Liga MX’s biggest clubs during a rough start to their season.
Beneath the surface of the game, many fans will look at the result and think that power has yet again been restored in Mexico’s favor in the ongoing debate between the two neighboring leagues. Others may have the view that this is the exact reason why MLS should capitalize on having a player like Lionel Messi in the league to loosen up roster building rules to be able to compete with the likes of Club America, Chivas, Tigres, and so on.
For example, LAFC were the kings in MLS in 2022 and made it all the way to the Concacaf Champions League final (now dubbed as the Champions Cup) earlier this summer, but fell just short against Club Leon, who finished in a respectable sixth place. But that final result goes to show how the top dog in one league (MLS) may still struggle against a mid-table team in another league (Liga MX), which means the overall quality of MLS still hase plenty of room to grow.
It will interesting to see how the rest of the Leagues Cup plays out with that in mind, as the round of 32 is approaching.