There’s a saying in Mexican football, Herculez Gomez once told me, that goes, “Hasta en las canicas quieren ganar.”
Even in marbles, they want to win.
It’s stuck with me. Through every Concacaf Champions League disappointment. Through Leagues Cup. And through Wednesday night’s Campeones Cup. For the first time, it felt like the MLS team cared about the game of marbles as much as the Liga MX team. For the first time, it felt like the MLS team needed to win as badly. For the first time, it felt like the MLS team EXPECTED to win.
And win they did. Atlanta United beat Club America, 3-2, in the second edition of Campeones Cup, the matchup between the champions of Major League Soccer and Liga MX.
When Pity Martinez told the press on Monday, “We are going to beat them,” I felt my heart race. It felt like one of those moments.
Screw humility. Screw hedging your bets. Put your reputation on the line. Put the potential for public humiliation on the line. Put your heart and soul on the line. Play the game like you don’t have any other option but to win.
That’s what we saw from Atlanta United. Josef Martinez looked like he couldn’t have cared less about the gold jerseys across from him. Pity Martinez looked like he was having more fun than he had all year. Darlington Nagbe, Julian Gressel, and Jeff Larentowicz looked in their element. They ROSE.