Monterrey prez: Leagues Cup schedule favors MLS

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Monterrey president Jose Antonio “Tato” Noriega said that the logistics and travel for Mexican clubs aren’t “fair” in the ongoing Leagues Cup tournament between Liga MX and MLS teams hosted in the U.S. and Canada.

“Very unhappy, very disappointed, very worried,” Noriega said on Tuesday night about the organization of the competition, shortly after a 1-0 victory in the round of 16 over rivals Tigres at Shell Energy Stadium, home of Houston Dynamo FC.

On Friday, Monterrey will play LAFC in a quarterfinal, which, according to the president, was initially scheduled for the weekend.

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“A game date is changed which was set for the 12th, and was moved ahead to the 11th, with all the kilometers that we’ve had on us…we are still alive and traveling to Los Angeles, we are going to accumulate a number of kilometers that isn’t fair,” said Noriega, who noted a number of players on his team have picked up injuries during the stretch.

“It’s going to be the fifth game [for us], while for Los Angeles it’s been at home with their players going out to eat every day with their families, going out to the movies, resting, and ours are making a huge effort.”

Since July 26, Monterrey has claimed four consecutive wins in the tournament while playing away in Sandy, Utah, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and then Houston on Tuesday.

LAFC, given a bye to the knockout round due to their MLS Cup title in 2022, won its games in the round of 32 and round of 16 while playing at home in BMO Stadium.

Friday’s quarterfinal match between LAFC and Monterrey will be played near BMO Stadium at the larger capacity Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

“There’s a great need to be equitable, because I don’t want to talk too much, but if we move on after Los Angeles, I’m sure we’re going to go to the other side of the country, so it’s crazy,” said Noriega. “I am speaking for all the Mexican teams, which have suffered various setbacks.”

Earlier in the tournament’s group stage, Leon spent the night at an airport in Vancouver after a flight delay left them stranded, forcing a delay in its match against LA Galaxy.

Along with Monterrey, Queretaro is the only other Liga MX team left in the Leagues Cup knockout round. The other six are MLS sides. On Friday, Queretaro faces the Philadelphia Union in the quarterfinals.

The Leagues Cup, an inaugural World Cup-style tournament that included every team in Liga MX and MLS clubs, will close out with a final on Aug. 19.

Liga MX president Mikel Arriola has called the Leagues Cup a success and said the competition committee will review the tournament once it is over, while leaving open the door for games to be played at venues in Mexico in the future.

“We have a lot of flexibility because the sports committee is led by both leagues,” Arriola said. “So after we analyze the results of this first year, which are very exciting and important, we could decide. Whatever we decide jointly could be implemented.”

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