Don’t think for one second the Portland Timbers aren’t taking 2020 Leagues Cup seriously.
That was the clear message from owner Merritt Paulson when his club was confirmed as one of the participating sides in the annual tournament pitting top Major League Soccer and Liga MX teams against each other.
“Nothing friendly about this”, Paulson tweeted shortly after dates were announced for the second edition of the international competition - which will have an expanded field of 16 clubs (eight per league) this year.
“Significant financial stakes for players as it is and it’s a first step to a far more meaningful relationship w/ Liga MX”, he added.
While far less aggressive in tone, Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese was just as excited about taking on opposition from south of the border - beginning with a July Round-of-16 showdown versus a still unnamed Mexican side.
“MLS is growing very quickly,” the former Venezuelan international said. “I think the quality of MLS now allows you to be able to show that we’re more competitive in these matches against Mexican teams.
“It’s important for MLS to continue this way. This competition is a good way to continue this battle between the two countries.”
Beyond fierce geographical rivalries, Savarese also highlighted the added incentive of showcasing what the Timbers can do on the international stage.
“These types of tournaments, especially when they’re international, you have to play against good Mexican teams. We’re going to take it very seriously and try to go as far as we can.”