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Matias Almeyda wants to see Copa Libertadores open to MLS, Liga MX

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno weighs in on the challenges Matias Almeyda will face in his first season at the helm of the San Jose Earthquakes.

San Jose Earthquakes coach Matias Almeyda would like to see a continental club competition for the whole of the Americas, including teams from MLS.

The Argentine won the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League with former club Chivas, but believes the Copa Libertadores should be for all the American continent.

"Yes, [MLS teams] should be there because if the Champions [League] is played in all of Europe, then the Copa Libertadores should be played by all of America," stated the 45-year-old in a recent interview with ESPN FC. "It would be more complete to have one champion for America, instead of two."

The idea has been floated before, but MLS commissioner Don Garber said last November that he couldn't see it happening any time soon, indicating that the deepening of the relationship between MLS and Liga MX is more of a priority than entering the Libertadores.

Former Chivas coach Jesus Almeyda
Matias Almeyda says he'd like to see the Copa Libertadores expanded to include North America in addition to South America.

In terms of the rivalry between Liga MX and MLS, Almeyda said MLS teams were getting closer to ending Liga MX's 13-year winning streak in CONCACAF's continental competition.

"[MLS] was close [in 2018] until we got hold of them with Chivas and won," laughed Almeyda, pointing out that three MLS sides reached the quarterfinal, two the semifinal and one (Toronto FC) the CCL final last year.

"[The dynamic] changed and it will continue to change," said the former River Plate midfielder. "Toronto defeated America, won against Tigres and so it was an improvement. [Toronto] couldn't manage [to win] against a great team [in Chivas], but before it had defeated other big teams."

Almeyda stressed that MLS is becoming increasingly attractive to players in Argentina and South America, with a steady increase of younger talents and coaches heading north in the past couple of years.

"Now [MLS] has started to be watched and they've started to analyze it a lot and, in fact, there are a lot of people from Europe that come here to work, there are players from Europe that come here and so it's evidently growing a lot," he said.

Almeyda denied he has any burning desire to join former teammates like Diego Simeone and Mauricio Pochettino in managing in Europe, adding that he enjoys the way MLS doesn't produce clear favorites for the title.

"What this league gives is that there isn't an obvious candidate," explained Almeyda. "You look at all the teams and you can't say that this or that one will be champion.

"In Mexico, you have four or five teams that could be [champion] and will fight," he continued. "In Spain you have two; in Italy you have one right now; in England you have three of four; in Germany two or three; Argentina there are two; in Uruguay there are two and in France one.

"So the difference with this league and the attractive thing for us is that today there are no candidates and so anything can happen."

Almeyda's Earthquakes kick off the 2019 MLS season on March 2 against Montreal Impact.

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