Miguel Herrera: Liga MX competing with Europe, not MLS
Club America coach Miguel Herrera has said Liga MX is competing with leagues in Europe rather than MLS and thinks the northern league has work to do to reach the level of Mexico's top division.
"Our league is very solid, very strong and isn't competing with MLS," Herrera said at a news conference on the eve of America's CONCACAF Champions League semifinal first leg against Toronto at BMO Field.
"Our league competes with leagues in Europe, and obviously the MLS is wanting to catch the Mexican league to also compete with the leagues in Europe in the future."
Herrera said MLS was improving due to increased investment, but seemed to discount the idea that it was catching Liga MX on the basis of Toronto knocking out Tigres and New York Red Bulls overcoming Club Tijuana in the CCL quarterfinals last month.
"I think we have to show on the pitch that our league is still solid," the former Mexico manager said. "I saw both the games between Toronto and New York [Red Bulls] against Tijuana and Tigres, and I felt the Mexican teams played better."
"Sometimes this isn't about playing better -- you win with goals, and [the MLS teams] were practical and scored the goals at the right time to eliminate them."
Herrera reiterated that Club America would play their strongest team against Toronto, with Oribe Peralta fit after leaving the pitch last weekend with what appeared to be an injury.
The only doubt is centre-back Emanuel Aguilera, who has a knock and is likely to make way for Bruno Valdez, who missed last Saturday's 2-1 win against Cruz Azul through suspension.
Herrera made it clear that he was not happy with the playing surface at BMO Field, but suggested that would not be used as an excuse.
"The pitch is obviously in bad shape," he said. "It's even and that helps a bit, but obviously a pitch on which American football is played is not in the best conditions to play the game I like, but that isn't a pretext.
"It's the same pitch for both, and we have to adapt to it quickly."
Club America's Argentine midfielder Guido Rodriguez told ESPN in Toronto that the state of the pitch would mean the game will be "hard fought," but agrees with his manager about the Mexican league having more quality than MLS.
"Each team is fighting for its league and its country, but I believe that the Mexican league is better than MLS," the 23-year-old former River Plate player said.
"Obviously there are a lot of teams and MLS keeps growing, but a MLS team knocking out a Mexican team doesn't mean MLS is better than the Mexican league."
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.