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The Pitch: Seven-Day Stretch to Feature Best of Top North American Leagues

September 21, 2021 - Major League Soccer (MLS) News Release


Bragging rights are on the line in an intensifying rivalry and growing partnership between Major League Soccer and LIGA MX clubs that will showcase two international finals in a one-week span, when the Leagues Cup pits Seattle Sounders FC against Club León this Wednesday, before the Columbus Crew host Cruz Azul seven days later in the annual clash between the reigning champions of both leagues in Campeones Cup on Wednesday, Sept. 29.

Tomorrow: Seattle Sets Sights on Winning First International Trophy

Perennial powerhouse Seattle Sounders FC are no strangers to championship game appearances, and the two-time MLS Cup victors (2016, 2019) are on the brink of raising the club's first and league's sixth international trophy when they face off against Club León on Wednesday night in the Leagues Cup final at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN).

Consistently ranked among the best teams in the Western Conference, Sounders FC are poised to join only four other MLS clubs ever to claim an international crown, with each of those titles won on MLS soil: Atlanta United (Campeones Cup, 2019), D.C. United (Concacaf Champions Cup, 1998; Copa Interamericana, 1998), New England Revolution (SuperLiga, 2008), and LA Galaxy (Concacaf Champions Cup, 2000).

As the anticipation is climbing, the stakes are reaching even higher heights with national team connections also running deep among South American countrymen suiting up on opposing club sides. Sounders FC forward Raúl Ruidíaz advanced Seattle's cause with a stoppage-time dagger against Santos Laguna which propelled them into the final. However, the second-leading scorer in MLS will now be up against fellow Peruvian international teammate and LIGA MX All-Star in Club León defender William Tesillo. In addition, Seattle defender Xavier Arreaga, with two goals and 15 starts in 16 games, will face Ecuador National Team teammate in forward Ángel Mena whose eight goals account for the third-highest tally in LIGA MX.

With homefield advantage in their favor, will Seattle be the next MLS club to win an international title?

It's the Best of the Best in Campeones Cup on Sept. 29:

A thrilling five weeks of MLS vs. LIGA MX matchups showcased across Leagues Cup and the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target will culminate with the ultimate test of champions, as the reigning MLS Cup winners Columbus Crew host LIGA MX's reigning Campeón de Campeones winners Cruz Azul in Campeones Cup at the brand-new Lower.com Field on Wednesday, Sept. 29 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2 / Univision / TUDN).

Tickets are still available via Ticketmaster.com here.

Campeones Cup marks the first international sporting event at the Crew's new home stadium, where the defending MLS league champions look to win their first piece of international hardware as a complement to their two MLS Cups (2008, 2020), three Supporters' Shields (2004, 2008, 2009) and a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2002).

With Argentine midfielder Lucas Zelarayán leading the way as a 2021 MLS All-Star, 2020 MLS Cup Most Valuable Player and last season's MLS Newcomer of the Year award winner, the Crew's supporting cast of three-time MLS Cup winner Darlington Nagbe, and U.S. Men's National Team forward and two-time MLS Cup winner Gyasi Zardes will be a tough trio to top.

Cruz Azul approaches the match after winning a dramatic ninth title in the history of LIGA MX. Among its standouts are scoring champion Jonathan Rodríguez, Jesús Corona and Luis Romo, named best goalkeeper and best defensive midfielder in LIGA MX, respectively.

With split results in the budding history of Campeones Cup, including a LIGA MX crown with Tigres UANL in 2018 and an MLS victory by Atlanta United in 2019, Columbus could be primed for an MLS takeover in this third edition.

CF Montréal and Toronto FC Set for Canadian Championship

r Quarterfinal action for the 2021 Canadian Championship - the highest domestic club competition in Canada - kicks off Wednesday with CF Montréal taking on HFX Wanderers FC at Wanderers Ground in Halifax, Nova Scotia (5 p.m. ET) and Toronto FC hosting York United at BMO Field (7:30 p.m. ET).

These two MLS clubs have a long history of success in this competition, with Toronto FC owning seven Canadian Championship titles (2009-2012, 2016-2018), followed by four-time champions CF Montréal's wins in 2008, 2013, 2014 and in the most recent edition in 2019.

With direct entry to the 2022 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, can these two clubs maintain their dominance to move one step closer to reaching region's ultimate prize of appearing in the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup?

Additional information regarding the Canadian Championship is available at www.canadasoccer.com/canadian-championship.

22-Year-Old Argentine Castellanos Continues Hot Streak headed into Double Dose of NY vs. NY This Week

Back-to-Back: Hudson River Derby Matches This Wednesday and Saturday

This week will decide: Is New York Red? Or is it Blue?

It's a double feature this week as the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC face off twice in just four days, Wednesday and Saturday, in a home-and-home series with important Eastern Conference points on the line.

While the Red Bulls are fresh off a key 4-0 win over Inter Miami CF, the win was only the team's second since early July, frustrating a Red Bulls team that has dropped 21 points from a winning position this season. The Red Bulls have a couple games in hand and will need to continue the strong performance if they hope to climb the standings this week as they sit nine points out of a playoff spot.

Those points won't be easy to come by with New York City FC as their opponent. Boasting one of the most prolific offenses so far this season, NYCFC have 43 goals on the season, second only to the New England Revolution, and are led by striker Taty Castellanos, who has posted 12 goals and seven assists this season. Just a week shy of his 23rd birthday (Oct. 3), Castellanos has enjoyed a hot streak, posting eight goals and four assists in the team's last 10 games, earning MLS Player of the Month Honors for the month of August.

While sitting in strong position - third - in the East, NYCFC's Achilles heel in 2021 has been road matches, posting just a 3-6-3 record away from Yankee Stadium. This Wednesday, the squad will be looking to string together a pair of road wins for the first time this season before returning to the comforts of home, where the team owns a strong record of 8-2-2. If NYCFC has hopes of catching Nashville SC (41 pts., second in the East), NYCFC will need to focus on key wins this week.

Game Notes

Wednesday, September 22

Inter Miami CF vs. Nashville SC, 7:30 p.m.

Inter Miami CF saw their club-record six-game undefeated streak put to an end, falling 4-0 to the New York Red Bulls at DRV PNK Stadium on Friday evening.

Nashville SC had their three-game winning streak and five-game undefeated run put to an end, dropping a 2-1 decision to Toronto FC at BMO Field on Saturday evening. CJ Sapong scored his ninth goal of the season, tied for 10th place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.

The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Gonzalo Higuaín netted the equalizer then Indiana Vassilev scored the game-winner five minutes into stoppage time as Inter Miami took a 2-1 win Aug. 8 at DRV PNK Stadium; they also reached a goalless draw at Nissan Stadium on May 2.

The expansion class of 2020 met in Round One of the MLS Cup Playoffs, the first time since 1998 two expansion teams reached the same postseason, and Nashville SC took a 3-0 win Nov. 20 at Nissan Stadium behind goals from Randall Leal, Hany Mukhtar and Dax McCarty.

The teams met twice during the regular season, a home-and-home series over a week, their first-ever meetings in league play. Anibal Godoy scored the game's only goal as Nashville SC took the victory Aug. 30 at Nissan Stadium; the teams then reached a goalless draw Sept. 6 in Fort Lauderdale.

Chicago Fire FC vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m.

Chicago Fire concluded their six-game road swing with a 2-0 loss at CF Montréal at Stade Saputo on Sunday afternoon.

The Revolution had their two-game winning run come to an end, reaching a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew at Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening. Adam Buksa scored his 11th goal of the season, tied for seventh place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.

The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Robert Beric and Luka Stojanovic gave the Fire a two-goal lead after 11 minutes, but Adam Buksa and Gustavo Bou struck back before the half-hour was out, leaving the teams in a 2-2 draw at Soldier Field on April 17.

The Revolution have two wins, with two draws, in the last four meetings, including a 1-1 result March 7, 2020 in the last game in Foxborough. The last win in the series came last Sept. 6 at Soldier Field. That Revolution win ended a nine-game home undefeated streak for the Fire in the series. The Fire had a seven-game undefeated streak overall in the series (5-0-2) ended in the Revolution's win in 2019 to start their current streak.

New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC, 8 p.m.

The Red Bulls won in impressive fashion for the first time in four matches, rolling to a 4-0 win against Inter Miami CF at DRK PNK Stadium on Friday evening. Fabio netted a pair of goals, his fourth and fifth of his inaugural MLS season.

NYCFC won for the first time in four games, coming back for a 2-1 win against FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium. Valentin Castellanos converted a penalty kick for the game-winner, his 12th of the season, tied for fourth place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.

The teams were originally scheduled to meet Aug. 21 at Red Bull Arena, but the match was postponed because of severe weather.

The teams met twice a season ago, each winning their home match. Kyle Duncan scored the game's only goal to give the Red Bulls the win Aug. 20 at Red Bull Arena; Valentin Castellanos netted a hat trick as NYCFC took a 5-2 win Nov. 1 at Yankee Stadium, their largest victory in the all-time series.

The Red Bulls have won eight of the 16 meetings all-time in league play, with a 32-21 goal differential. Included in that was a 7-0 Red Bulls win on May 21, 2016, at Yankee Stadium, the victory matching the largest margin of victory in MLS history (and the seven goals by the Red Bulls their club record). In all competitions, the Red Bulls have won 10 of 18 matches, with two draws, with a 37-21 goal differential. NYCFC have won five of the last 10 league meetings, with one draw, over the last four years.

Saturday, September 25

Philadelphia Union vs. Atlanta United, 3:30 p.m. (Univision / TUDN)

The Union snapped their three-game winless skid, defeating Orlando City SC 3-1 at Subaru Park on Sunday evening. Kacper Przybylko scored a pair of goals, now with eight on the season, and added his third assist of the season.

Atlanta United won their third game on the trot, their seventh win in the last eight games, defeating D.C. United 3-2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Ezequiel Barco scored from a direct free kick for a second consecutive game and added an assist for a second game in a row, setting up Josef Martínez for his ninth goal of the season (third in the last two games).

The teams are meeting for the second time in league play this season. Cory Burke pulled a goal back in the 83rd minute then Jakob Glesnes hit a stunning equalizer in stoppage time to leave the teams in a 2-2 draw June 20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium; an own goal and Anton Walkes had given ATLUTD a 2-0 lead late.

The teams also met this year in the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Champions League. In the first leg, Kacper Przybylko scored a pair of goals and assisted on a third as the Union took a 3-0 win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on April 27. Przybylko then scored late in the second leg to seal the tie in a 1-1 draw, the Union advancing 4-1 on aggregate.

The Union have won once in seven league meetings all time - the last regular season encounter in 2019. ATLUTD had won three of the first five meetings, with two draws, since coming into MLS.

The teams also faced off in an Eastern Conference Semifinal in 2019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, ATLUTD getting goals from Julian Gressel and Josef Martínez for a 2-0 win.

New England Revolution vs. Orlando City SC, 7 p.m.

Orlando City SC saw their skid extended, falling 3-1 to the Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park on Sunday evening. Ruan scored his second goal in MLS for the OCSC tally, both coming in the last two weeks.

The teams did not meet in league play last year, but did in an Eastern Conference Semifinal at Exploria Stadium. Gustavo Bou scored a pair of goals and Carles Gil added one as the Revolution took a 3-1 win on Nov. 29.

The teams met last in league play in 2019. In the first meeting, Carles Gil scored one goal and set up another as the Revolution cruised to a 4-1 win on July 27 at Gillette Stadium. Then in the second meeting on Sept. 14 in Orlando, Nani scored a pair of goals as Orlando City overcame a two-goal halftime deficit to leave the teams in a 3-3 draw.

The away team has never won in league play, in 11 meetings. The last two regular-season meetings in Orlando have ended in 3-3 draws; Orlando City has outscored New England 12-7 in the last three matchups in Florida. The Revolution have won four of the five meetings at Gillette Stadium, including each of the past three years.

Columbus Crew SC vs. CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m. (TVA Sports)

The Crew gained a second result in a row, reaching a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening. Gyasi Zardes scored his fifth goal of the season for the Crew tally.

CF Montréal won their second game in a row and a third in the last four games, defeating Chicago Fire FC 2-0 at Stade Saputo on Sunday afternoon. Romell Quioto scored his fifth goal of the season and his second in as many games; he has four goals and three assists in his last six MLS appearances.

The teams are meeting for the second time this season. They reached a goalless draw May 1 at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

The teams met once a season ago. Lassi Lappalainen scored in the first half and Bojan Krkic in the second as Montréal took a 2-1 win Oct. 7 in Columbus.

The Montréal win last season ended a two-game home winning streak in the series for the Crew, who have won eight of the 12 meetings all-time in Columbus, with two draws. The lone Montréal win there came in 2015. The Impact have won the past two meetings in the series in Québec.

D.C. United vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

D.C. United had their three-game undefeated run snapped, falling 3-2 to Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Edison Flores scored his second MLS goal and Felipe Martins netted his first of the season for the United markers.

FC Cincinnati weren't able to make it two home victories in a row, falling 2-1 to New York City FC at TQL Stadium on Saturday evening. Brenner scored his seventh goal of the season, his fourth over the last eight matches.

The teams are meeting for the second time this season. They reached a goalless draw July 31 at TQL Stadium, the third in five meetings all-time.

The teams met twice a season ago. Donovan Pines scored in the first and Chris Odoi-Atsem in the second as D.C. United took a 2-1 win Oct. 18 at Nippert Stadium. They also reached a goalless draw, Aug. 21 in Cincinnati.

The teams met twice in FC Cincinnati's inaugural season. Lucas Rodríguez scored a pair of goals and added an assist, as D.C. United rolled to a 4-1 win July 18 at Nippert Stadium; the teams played to a goalless draw on Decision Day (Oct. 6) at Audi Field.

New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

The teams are meeting on the back end of a home-and-home series over four days, brought about by the rescheduling of the postponed Aug. 21 match at Red Bull Arena.

Colorado Rapids vs. Toronto FC, 8 p.m. (TSN)

The Rapids extended their undefeated streak to 10 games, reaching a 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Sunday evening. Danny Wilson scored his second goal of the season; the 10-game run is the second-longest in the club's 26-year history (long: 15 games, April 13-July 23, 2016).

TFC put paid to a nine-game stretch without victory, defeating Nashville SC 2-1 at BMO Field on Saturday evening. Jacob Shaffelburg and Omar Gonzalez each scored their second goals of the season, Gonzalez the 79th-minute game-winner.

The teams last met in 2019. Jonathan Osorio netted the game-winner in the 69th minute to snap a 2-2 tie, giving TFC the 3-2 win Sept. 15 at BMO Field.

The Rapids won the last meeting at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, a 2-0 victory on April 14, 2018. It was their third consecutive home win in the series. TFC has won eight of 10 meetings in Ontario; the Rapids win in 2014 in Toronto is their only league victory there against TFC (the Rapids did win MLS Cup 2010 there).

Minnesota United FC vs. Houston Dynamo FC, 8 p.m.

MNUFC put an quick end to a two-game losing slide, defeating the LA Galaxy 3-0 at Allianz Field on Saturday evening. Emanuel Reynoso netted a pair of goals, now with four for the season, while Franco Fragapane recorded a pair of assists.

Dynamo FC stretched their undefeated run to three games with a second win in that time, defeating FC Dallas 3-2 at BBVA Stadium on Saturday evening. Fafa Picault scored his fourth goal in the last three games, now with 10 goals for the season, tied for ninth place in the MLS Golden Boot standings; Griffin Dorsey scored his second goal this year and added his first MLS assist.

The teams are meeting for the third time this season, and Minnesota United have won both. Adrien Hunou scored both MNUFC goals for a 2-1 win Aug. 28 at BBVA Stadium; Robin Lod scored early and Brent Kallman netted late as MNUFC took a 2-0 win at Allianz Field on Aug. 7.

The teams met three times a season ago. They reached a pair of 2-2 draws in the final two meetings, Sept. 19 at BBVA Stadium and Oct. 18 at Allianz Field. On Sept. 2 in Houston, Darwin Quintero scored against his former club and Ariel Lassiter hit for his first two Dynamo goals, in a 3-0 win.

Minnesota United's win in Houston in the last meeting was the first for the visiting team in the all-time series, with the home team winning six meetings in a row before draws in the next two matchups.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. FC Dallas, 10 p.m. (TSN)

Whitecaps FC rebounded from a first defeat in 11 games, gaining a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Sunday evening. Brian White scored his fifth goal of the season, his fourth in the last six games.

FC Dallas saw their run of back-to-back draws snapped, falling 3-2 to Houston Dynamo FC at BBVA Stadium on Saturday evening. Jader Obrian scored a pair of goals, a second consecutive game with a brace, now with eight goals in his first MLS season.

The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Ricardo Pepi netted early for FCD, then Lucas Cavallini and Andy Rose gave the 'Caps the lead, before an own goal in stoppage time left the teams in a 2-2 draw July 4 at Toyota Stadium.

The Whitecaps FC won the last meeting at BC Place, a 2-1 win May 25, 2019, the first for the home team in the series since 2016. The 'Caps have gained points in eight of the last nine meetings in Vancouver, with a 4-1-4 record.

Whitecaps FC have come away with points on their last four trips to Toyota Stadium. Their 4-0 win there in 2017 was the club's first ever in Frisco, Texas; FC Dallas had won the first seven meetings at home, outscoring Vancouver 14-2.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Los Angeles Football Club, 10 p.m.

The Quakes played a seven-goal thriller for the second time in four days, this time ending on the winning side in a 4-3 victory against Austin FC at Q2 Stadium on Saturday evening. Eduardo López scored a pair of goals, now with five goals in the last two games, giving him 10 for the season, tied for ninth place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.

LAFC had their three-game winning streak put to an end, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Sunday evening. Cristian Arango converted a penalty kick for his sixth goal of the season and in MLS, all coming over the last five matches.

The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Goals from Nathan and Eduardo López in the first 28 minutes led the Quakes to a 2-1 win Aug. 8 at PayPal Park.

The Quakes win in each of the last three meetings have been their first in the all-time series, in eight meetings. LAFC had won the first five meetings between the clubs. The Quakes won the last meeting at Banc of California Stadium, a 2-1 win last Sept. 27 .

LAFC scored four goals or more in three consecutive matches with the Quakes, through the first meeting last year, the second team in MLS history to achieve that (also, LA Galaxy vs. Philadelphia Union, 2013-15). LAFC cruised to a 5-0 win on March 30, 2019 in San Jose behind a Carlos Vela hat trick; Vela then netted two more goals as LAFC won 4-0 on Aug. 21, 2019 at Banc of California Stadium.

Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m.

The Timbers stretched their undefeated streak to five games with a fourth win in that span, defeating Los Angeles Football Club 2-1 at Providence Park on Sunday evening. Dairon Asprilla netted his sixth goal of the season, then George Fochive scored his second of the year for the game-winner.

Real Salt Lake won a second consecutive game and for the third time in four games, defeating Seattle Sounders FC by the game's only goal at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday evening. Damir Kreilach scored the RSL goal, his 10th of the season and second in the last three games, now tied for ninth place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.

The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Dairon Asprilla, Yimmi Chará and Felipe Mora all scored goals as the Timbers took a 3-2 win Aug. 7 at Providence Park.

The Real win in the last meeting at Rio Tinto Stadium, a 2-1 win last Oct. 14, ended a five-game Timbers undefeated streak in the series, a four-game winning streak coming to an end in the first meeting. The Timbers have come away with points on six of their last eight league visits to Rio Tinto Stadium, dating back to 2014, with five wins and a draw in that span.

The teams also met in Round One of the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. Jefferson Savarino scored the game-winner three minutes from the end, giving RSL the 2-1 win on Oct. 19 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Sunday, September 26

Chicago Fire FC vs. Nashville SC, 1 p.m.

The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Hany Mukhtar scored a hat trick within the opening 16 minutes - the quickest hat trick in league history from the start of a game - the three goals coming six minutes apart as Nashville SC rolled to a 5-1 win July 17 at Nissan Stadium.

The teams met once in Nashville SC's inaugural season. Nashville's Daniel Rios and the Fire's Boris Sekulic traded goals in the first half, leaving the teams in a 1-1 draw Oct. 31 at Nissan Stadium.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 7:30 p.m. (FS1 / FOX Deportes)

Sporting return to action after a weekend off, winning a second game on the trot last time out in a 4-0 win against Minnesota United FC at Children's Mercy Park on Sept. 15. Daniel Sallói scored his 13th goal of the season, now in third place in the MLS Golden Boot standings; Johnny Russell had a goal and a pair of assists.

Sounders FC had their four-game road winning streak put to an end, falling by the game's only goal to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday evening.

The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Johnny Russell, Daniel Sallói and Cameron Duke all scored as Sporting took a 3-1 win July 25 at Lumen Field.

Sporting have won the last three meetings scoring three goals in each. The teams had last met during the 2019 season, and Sporting KC won both by 3-2 scorelines, May 26 at Children's Mercy Park, and Aug. 4 in Seattle.

Sporting are undefeated at home in the series over the last six meetings, with five wins in that time, dating back to 2013. Sporting has won on three of their last five visits to Seattle, since 2016 - their first wins there since a 1-0 win in 2009, the first meeting ever between the clubs.

Austin FC vs. LA Galaxy, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes)

Austin FC had their losing skid extended, falling 4-3 to the San Jose Earthquakes at Q2 Stadium on Saturday evening. Sebastian Druissi scored his third goal of the season, and also added his fourth assist, making his ninth appearance since coming to MLS.

The Galaxy had their stretch of three consecutive draws put to an end, falling 3-0 to Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field on Saturday evening.

The teams are meeting for the second time this season and in their histories. Sebastian Lletget and Javier Hernández scored on either side of halftime as the Galaxy took a 2-0 win May 15 at Dignity Health Sports Park.


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