Major League Soccer

Columbus Crew players relishing Liga MX rivalry in Campeones Cup

Lizzy Becherano
Lucas Zelarayan reacts to the Campeones Cup final against Cruz Azul
Lucas Zelarayan reacts to the Campeones Cup final against Cruz Azul / Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Columbus Crew players are excited for the Campeones Cup final against Cruz Azul on Wednesday at Field, with midfielder Lucas Zelarayan claiming the rivalry between MLS and Liga MX strengthens the competition. 

This is the third rendition of the tournament after it was established in 2018 in an effort to collaborate with Liga MX. The Cup features one game between the reigning champions of Major League Soccer and the Mexican league to crown the best of North America. 

Zelarayan knows the importance of the match after playing with Mexican side Tigres UANL for various years. 

“It is an important game to play against Cruz Azul or to play against any other team from MX. It’s going to be special for me because I played for four years with Tigres, and it is a league that I know very well, and that I have very good memories of,” Zelarayan said.

"This rivalry that we’ve had in the last few years helps both leagues to rise, to compete and improve, one with the other. I know my adversaries, I have played against them. I hope that we can match the circumstances, rise to the challenge, and that this is going to be a very nice match.”

Midfielder Darlington Nagbe agreed with Zelarayan, but added that balancing several tournaments at once after being crowned champions may not be as easy as it seems. 

“I'm not sure why it’s so hard. But obviously there’s a history of having a tougher season the following year after a championship,” acknowledged Nagbe.

“I think [with the] Concacaf Champions League and everything, trying to balance those; at the same time, realizing that you won the previous season because you were hungry. So I think we're getting that hunger back. I think we're realizing that the opponent isn’t going to lay down for us, but the last couple of results have been good for us, and I hope we keep going in the right direction.”