The Leagues Cup final has finally concluded. The tournament, in its first edition held its championship game under the bright lights of sin city. In the most recent experiment of establishing a rivalry between MLS and Liga MX clubs, the Leagues Cup was a tournament that left lots of questions.
Tigres and Cruz Azul came into the match looking to add more silverware to their recent success of trophies accumulated. The city of Las Vegas with its high-profile tourism hosted the two Mexican squads to the first-ever final of the Leagues Cup with over 20,000 people in attendance.
The Monterrey based club was seeking to get over its non-winning ways in the last few games. The club struggled against Club America but went on to defeat the Aguilas in a penalty shootout to advance to the final. Meanwhile, Cruz Azul was looking to fight off of all the doubters of its championship pedigree. The Azules arrived into the game after defeating the LA Galaxy 2-1.
The match started with Cruz Azul dominating possession. A strange sighting since Tigres is a team that dominates the possession meter every game. Los Cementeros established a high-pressure and did not allow Tigres to settle within the first half. Cruz Azul had a few chances created that did not seem to find the back of the net. Milton Caraglio even had a header that crashed the post. Although, Cruz Azul was the better team, both clubs went into the half 0-0.
In the second half, both teams looked more willing to attack. Tigres made a few changes after subbing in Vargas and Damm. Los Auriazules attack seemed more promising as it had more shots on goal and flowed congruent on the attacking side. Nonetheless, Cruz Azul was awarded a penalty kick during Tigres best playing version of the match. Yoshimar Yotun was the man in charge and did not disappoint with a beautiful shot in the upper 90.
Tigres began to have more errors defensively and allowed Cruz Azul to score on a breakaway pass that allowed Jonathan Rodriguez to dribble by Nahuel and seal the win for los Cementeros. Although, Tigres made things interesting by scoring a header by Guido Pizarro in the 90th minute.
In stoppage time, we witnessed Nahuel Guzman make a terrible play. The goalkeeper lost his mind an elbowed Edgar Mendez while the ball was on Cruz Azul’s defensive side. The Argentine is a player known for being heated while his team is on the losing side.
Will the MLS and Liga MX have a interleague play in the future?
Cruz Azul achieved a well-earned victory and claims the first championship of the Leagues Cup. A tournament that has all the specimens to become a well-respected competition. In its first year, we saw four teams from each league compete for silverware. Next year, the tournament will expand to 8 teams per league with the possibility of having a home and away game. The future of interleague play seems promising as both leagues look to work together to increase fans and most importantly a profit through club rivalries.