Time was, MLS teams could catch out Liga MX teams on occasion in the Concacaf Champions League, as the Mexican outfits would often send over reserve-laden squads and the manager would downplay the importance of the tournament itself.
Don't expect that for Sporting Kansas City and their round of 16 opponent, Toluca.
Toluca manager Hernan Cristante hailed CCL as an "important competition."
"It is an important competition that is given importance; maybe in years ago it was just another competition, today it places you in a privileged place, winning it," he said in a press conference on Wednesday ahead of the first leg against Sporting, on Thursday at Children's Mercy Park (8 pm ET | YahooSports.com, UDN).
As for respecting the opponent, Cristante paid Kansas City a lofty compliment.
"We know the rival we're facing and how complicated they are to face," Cristante said about Sporting Kansas City. "It's a team that plays really good soccer, and in fact it's a team considered 'Barcelona-like' for those of us in the soccer world. It's a team that possesses the ball really well."
And as for the winter temperatures in Kansas City, Cristante shrugged it off, saying that Toluca can get cold as well, although it's "a little drier cold."