For Club Leon, the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 first leg against LAFC means everything.
“It’s life or death,” Leon’s president Jesus Martinez Murguia told media.
It’s not just talk from the No. 1 team in Liga MX. They rested players in a 3-1 league loss to San Luis, a result which could see them knocked off the perch before they take on LAFC. And they’re also debuting a new lighting system in their Camp Nou stadium — they call it the best lighting system in the Mexican league — in time for the match against last year's MLS Supporters' Shield winners.
But even with all the hype for Tuesday’s first leg, Martinez Murguia is hoping MLS clubs eventually make a move for some of his players as part of the recent transfers of Liga MX players to MLS.
“MLS has grown a lot. Hopefully in the near future they [MLS clubs] come to buy one of our players, because that way we’d receive good revenue and we know that they’re paying important fees,” Martinez Murguia told media at the press conference unveiling the new Camp Nou lighting system. “They manage things well in MLS and that’s something that we should copy from them. LAFC is a measuring stick. There’s a lot of talk for this game. It’s life or death.
“One of the objectives is to take this team global,” he continued. “We dream of the FIFA Club World Cup. We’re going for both tournaments [Liga MX and Concacaf Champions League]. We have a team that can compete with a lot of quality players … We confirm our commitment to our fans — we have a team to compete and both tournaments are our objective.
“We are very positive. We trust in our players and coaching staff. We know that MLS has grown a lot, same as Liga MX, and it’s a matchup that’s really attractive.”
“La Fiera,” as Club Leon are nicknamed, have a 4W-2L-0D record after six weeks of play in the current Clausura and they lead the league with 12 points entering the weekend. Their head coach is veteran Nacho Ambriz, who had this to say after his team’s 3-1 loss to San Luis:
“It was a bad day. All we can do is get home and training tomorrow to prepare for Tuesday.
“I sent someone from my coaching staff to scout LAFC. Tomorrow we’ll analyze the video that we have to see how to short the circuits that they could have around Carlitos Vela and then to come out in our style. We need to get back to the good soccer that the team plays at home and we hope on Tuesday to prepare ourselves 100 percent because we need to win at home.”