“I’ve been in America now 13 years, and this is the closest [MLS and Liga MX] have been,” MLS and Minnesota United manager Adrian Heath said after the match. “I think if you’d have gone back 10 years, I think Liga MX win these types of games.”
It took just three minutes for the scoring to get underway, with LAFC left-back Diego Palacios standing up a cross to the back post for club teammate and former El Tri star Vela to head beyond the reach of Camilo Vargas of Atlas.
There would be a wait before the second was scored, though.
Nearly 10 minutes into the second half, the MLS side had the ball in the back of the net to double its advantage, with Brandon Vazquez making a run down the right flank and pulling the ball back for FC Dallas winger Paul Arriola to slot home from the edge of the 6-yard box. The celebrations were brief, however, with the linesman ruling that the FC Cincinnati forward made his right-wing run from an offside position.
The All-Stars from MLS eventually found a second in the 73rd minute, though, when Raul Ruidiaz slotted a penalty past Santos Laguna No. 1 Carlos Acevedo. The Seattle Sounders FC frontman took the spot kick after reigning MVP Carles Gil was clumsily brought down in the area, leaving referee Joe Dickerson no choice but to award the penalty.
Liga MX pulled a goal back as full-time approached with a thunderous strike from Pachuca right-back Kevin Alvarez from the end of the penalty area to breathe life into his team and energize the crowd for the game’s closing moments.
“Every time the U.S. plays Mexico now, I’m not sure who’s going to win the game,” Heath added. “That speaks volumes of the ownership groups of these clubs in MLS who’ve invested sums of money into the quality that you see on the field.”
The Liga MX regular season resumes on Thursday, when Queretaro hosts Atletico San Luis, while 24 MLS sides will be in action Saturday with the remaining four squaring off Sunday.