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Prekrap: Atlanta United vs. Club America - Campeones Cup

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A glorified friendly that seems like it’s being treated seriously

Toluca v America - Torneo Apertura 2019 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Atlanta United will play a very important soccer game today against Club America in something called the Campeones Cup. How this got branded as the Campeones Cup and not the Champions Copa is unknown, it’s probably a question for a Clear & Obvious INVESTIGATION but I get the feeling the fact that Campeones has the word ONE in it deeply factored into the decision - get it, one champion. It makes way more sense than champion which has the word pion in it, and we’re not talking about particle physics unless VAR calls are factoring in the idea that particles aren’t actually touching each other when something like a blatant handball isn’t called. Anyway, I’m mostly impressed that the Mad Men who promote the game did not manage to write TWO TEAMS ONE CUP across all of the advertising for the game. Good times.

Atlanta United is playing in its first cup final of the year having missed a chance to reach the semi-finals of the Concacaf Champions League. Still, Atlanta United is 1-1-0 against LigaMX teams and a .500 winning percentage is unheard of against teams from south of the border in MLS.

This is great news for MLS, its fans, and commentators because if there is one thing that those groups are, it is secure in their feelings about Mexican soccer. I mean, who wouldn’t have normal feelings about LigaMX being the most popular league in the US, El Tri being the most popular team in the US, and the US having just lost to Mexico in the Gold Cup final in Chicago, right?

8-7-3 IS a winning record after all, see the league is as good as LigaMX! (except for the best teams in the league, then MLS teams are not as good, buuuuuuuuuuuuut IF you exclude the best teams and strip away all of the context around things like aggregate scores and who actually wins CCL, MLS = LigaMX... THOUGH, by this logic Atlanta is 1-1 against Monterrey and is THUS just as good as Monterrey so I’m with Doyle in that Atlanta United is the best team in MLS and is the second or third best team in LigaMX)

I really want to hate this game, but I can’t

This seems like a really bad idea - like almost as bad as the Nations League. There’s no reason for Atlanta and America to care about the match, the teams have no history against each other, they’re both trying to get a top spot in their leagues’ respective playoffs this year, it’s a mid-week game ahead of league matches, and on top of that, is giving me flashbacks to a congested schedule to start the year that led to Atlanta being in 10th or last in the East and drawing at home to FC Cincinnati. This is the worst thing ever.

But maybe it isn’t?

The sides are actually taking this seriously and we might find out who is really better between Atlanta United and Club America because both teams are at least bringing their best players, although I do see Giovani dos Santos’ name on that list. This should be a really good time, America is the most popular team in Mexico and is one of the most popular teams in the US and (I think we’re about to find out) is very popular in Atlanta itself. So at least the atmosphere will feel like a huge cup final and that should push the players to not treat the game as a friendly.

Plus, Miguel Herrera is one of the most entertaining managers to watch and wants his teams playing attractive, attacking soccer. Club America is still settling into the LigaMX season but is undefeated in four matches and opened the year by beating Monterrey 4-2. Atlanta United has been playing its best soccer of 2019 in recent home matches, and in Orlando, and if the first team lineup plays together we should continue to see that in this game. Plus, George Bello and Tito Villalba working their way back to the lineup means that the Five Stripes can get some key pieces gametime as the team pushes into the MLS playoffs.

Finally, there’s something more important that good soccer or attendance records on the line- BANTZ. If Atlanta wins the team would be the first MLS side to win a real and very, very, very important trophy against a LigaMX team and would have a chance to win a treble in 2019.