TORONTO — Toronto FC striker Jozy Altidore said he believes that top to bottom Liga MX has more quality than teams in MLS, but that MLS has the brighter future.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Wednesday’s inaugural Campeones Cup between TFC and Tigres UANL, Altidore noted the structural differences between the two leagues, as well as Liga MX’s greater investment in players.
“I think the Mexican league probably still is better in terms of the quality they’re able to attract from top to bottom,” Altidore said. “The inferior teams so to speak in Mexico are able to spend a little more and spread it out and get some more quality players. Our league is doing a good job of trying to counter that. We have a salary cap so it’s different. But I think looking at both leagues with us having a salary cap, we have to be happy with where we are and where we’re trying to go. I think the possibilities are great for MLS, and I think if anybody’s future is brighter so to speak, you can’t knock what’s going on in MLS right now.”
The match, which seeks to tap into the longstanding rivalry between the two countries, comes at a difficult time for both clubs, as each team is occupied by their respective league commitments. Tigres has the Clasico Regiomontano this weekend against city rivals Monterrey. TFC has struggled all season with injuries that have left it sitting nine points outside the playoff places with just six games remaining.
That reality has left Toronto manager Greg Vanney with a delicate balancing act in terms of his lineup choices.
“For me, it’s been a mind-racking few days, weeks, just kind of thinking of how best to approach this game with our group, with all things considered,” he said.
Vanney added that the game, coming on the heels of a 5-3 win over the LA Galaxy last weekend, could have some benefits for his team as well.
“There’s only been so many times this year where we’ve been physically able to put a similar team on the field two games in a row,” he said. “So momentum is also an interesting thing for us right now, just building some continuity from game to game so that we can build on previous games and move forward as a group.”
Vanney chuckled at the suggestion that either of the respective leagues might be seeking to influence the respective manager’s lineup selections, but he also denied that he would be bringing up players from the team’s reserve or academy teams.
“I think everyone involved in both leagues is taking this cup seriously,” he said. “I think this year everyone is still figuring out where the stature is in terms of this cup, it’s new, but I think in the next five years or so I think this will become an important cup in the calendar. This is the first edition of it.
“We’ve put out our 23-man roster, it’s all first team players, it’s all the usual suspects for us. There’s nobody outside of that group that is involved. We want to try to win the game so we’ll select a group that we belive will win the game, and achieve as many goals as we can as a group [Wednesday] night in terms of also progressing into Saturday and the games in front of us. All things are being considered, but we want to win the championship.”