MLS getting closer to Liga MX - Atlanta's De Boer
Atlanta United head coach Frank de Boer believes his team's 3-2 victory over Club America on Wednesday is a significant step to MLS closing the gap with Liga MX.
Mexico's top division has traditionally dominated against MLS teams, but Atlanta's victory over Liga MX's most successful club saw MLS take the second edition of the Campeones Cup, with Tigres having lifted the inaugural trophy last year against Toronto.
"I think it's very important," said De Boer, speaking in Spanish, at the postgame news conference. "We want to compete with Liga MX. We know that they, with their history, are better than MLS, but we have to be closer and today we showed we are closer.
"We still have to put a lot of energy every day, every year to be even closer, but this is a first step and it's good for MLS and for Atlanta United, which is most important for me."
Josef Martinez netted the winning goal for the MLS champion from the penalty spot after an end-to-end game in front of over 40,000 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Club America coach Miguel Herrera was left to lament his team's errors in defense.
"We've always said that when there's a title [to win] America has to win it, it is an obligation," Herrera said. "It's not a trophy without any significance; of course it's important. It's the new alliance between two very good leagues.
"I reiterate, with so many errors on the field it was difficult to win. We went up and then gave away two penalties through infantile errors, we let them past us [in defense], we made mistakes and paid the consequence, which was not being able to achieve the objective."
Former Mexico manager Herrera admitted that MLS has improved and highlighted Atlanta United forward Gonzalo Martinez's quality.
"The level of MLS has been increasing the last two or three years," Herrera said. "They are bringing in players with a lot of quality. They stopped bringing in players to retire and signed players with a future and it's brought that increase [in level] that it lacked.
"Look at 'Pity' Martinez, who instead of going to Europe chose MLS and that's been good for the league."
Atlanta United travels to Portland Timbers on Sunday.