Columbus Crew midfielder Darlington Nagbe will have a unique opportunity on multiple fronts when his team faces Cruz Azul next Wednesday in the 2021 Campeones Cup at Lower.com Field (8 pm ET | ESPN2, Univision, TUDN).

The 31-year-old veteran has already won one iteration of the annual bout between the previous MLS and Liga MX champions as a member of Atlanta United, when the 2019 Five Stripes became the first MLS team to win the trophy with a victory over Club America.

Nagbe will attempt to replicate the feat in this year's event, potentially the first trophy that the Crew could lift at their new home stadium – should they finish the job.

"I think it's such a great game to be a part of, the two champions of the previous season," Nagbe said. "Obviously a lot to play for, a trophy. Winning that trophy [with Atlanta] meant a lot, not just to me, but to the team, especially being the first MLS team to win it after all these years playing against top Mexican opponents."

Nagbe added that the title match will bring some extra luster.

"I feel like there's always a secret competition between Liga MX and MLS in terms of which league is better," he added, "but I feel like MLS has made huge strides in terms of the players that they've signed, we've signed here as a club, wanting to push and be the best that we can be. So I think [it brings] a little bit of bragging rights and just two good teams on show."

Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko also has previous experience with the competition, dating back to his days with Toronto FC, when the Reds came short in the inaugural edition against Tigres UANL.

While the result wasn't what he wanted, Bezbatchenko said that match was his first in-person exposure to former Tigres attacker and current Columbus star Lucas Zelarayan, who won the 2020 MLS Cup MVP and Newcomer of the Year awards following his stateside arrival.

As for what winning this year's Campeones Cup would mean to Columbus, Bezbatchenko said any opportunity to add silverware to the trophy case will never be taken lightly, especially at the expense of a Liga MX foe.

"It would mean a lot, it would mean a ton," Bezbatchenko told Crew TV analyst Jordan Angeli. "I think since the day we got here, Caleb [Porter], myself and ownership have said we want to be a consistent contender for trophies. We want to be regularly in the mix to win Cups and so there's a lot of Cups on the line every year.

"Obviously with COVID it's been a little bit challenging because we haven't had the U.S. Open Cup to play for, but we were able to get the MLS Cup last year and that's our intent, to always make the playoffs and play for Cups."

On top of that, Bezbatchenko said the continental trophy presents a chance to expand the Crew's global profile.

"Campeones Cup is unique because it's a continental tournament and one of our other goals aside from just being a contender is to actually bring Columbus to the world and one way we can do that is by competing internationally, in Champions League, in Campeones Cup, maybe in the Club World Cup someday," he said. "So that's what it means to us, is to be one of the few clubs that's ever done it."