Miguel Herrera: MLS spending 'stratospheric' money to close gap on Liga MX
Club America manager Miguel Herrera believes that "stratospheric" spending on players is allowing Major League Soccer to compete with Liga MX, but the competition still has plenty of work to do to catch Mexico's league in terms of talent.
Herrera, the former Mexico boss, watched MLS' Toronto FC beat America 3-1 in their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal first leg last Tuesday, but he is confident that Liga MX remains stronger than their northern counterparts.
"They've got better, they have spent stratospheric amounts of money," said Herrera in an interview with Fox Sports. "They compete with Europe in [terms of] money. That doesn't happen in Mexico.
"[It's] a league that is growing well, taking giant steps each day and bringing in players that aren't ready to retire, but quality ones with five or six years left in their career, [as well as] bringing back national team players.
"I think they are growing well and doing things right, [but] I still insist that our league is strong and I still think we're on top of their league."
Herrera then said MLS was doing things "under the table" outside of formal salaries to attract players to the league, and pointed to the LA Galaxy's ability to sign a global star like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and still pay him below the threshold of a designated player.
"They have three designated players that are different," Herrera continued. "[But] they've started to do things under the table.
"Zlatan goes to MLS and what he supposedly earns with the Galaxy is nothing compared to what he earned in Manchester. Naturally they gave him something aside so he'd be happy to go to the league."
Herrera repeated the idea that Liga MX should be looking to catch European leagues rather than an MLS he deems inferior to Mexico's first division.
"I think MLS is growing as it should and as the people in MLS have planned, but we've been an established leagues for a lot of years," Herrera said. "We're planning to grow and to catch European leagues that are within reach like Netherlands, Portugal and above them Germany, England and Spain.
"Those are the leagues that give us an example and I still think that."
The former El Tri manager also discussed the melee at half-time during the semifinal of the CCL in Toronto that led to fines from CONCACAF for both teams.
Herrera again stressed that his players were treated badly by the police at BMO Field and indicated that he had a difference of opinion with TFC coach Greg Vanney, despite video of the incident showing an America staffer elbowing Toronto player Jonathan Osorio in the chin.
"Their coach was also fired up because when the second half started, he came to tell me that my assistant attacked one of his players and it is not true," said Herrera. "One of his players attacked one of my assistants and obviously that was the cause of the pushing."
Herrera also said he believes the two-goal deficit ahead of Tuesday's second leg in Estadio Azteca was within reach for Las Aguilas.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.