In an ESPN Summer Soccer Series international friendly, the MLS team Chicago Fire lost 3-2 to LIGA MX club Club America.
The score looks close, but the difference of quality between the two sides is far greater than one would expect. Chicago plays a game where they defend physically and attack impatiently. The will enter the final third with a few passes, then rip a shot or send in a cross that is almost always anticipated by defenders.
This style of play makes it difficult to play against teams who can pass, shoot and defend in a more improved manner.
Club America easily possessed the ball, created chances and ran back and forth throughout the entire game. Their hunger was there from their defensive third to the final one. They sometimes allowed the Fire to waltz into their third but did not allow them to do much.
Chicago scored two goals due to errors by America, but their Mexican counterparts won the game due to to penalty kicks — one awarded off of a hand ball and the other for a foul.
The point is this: Chicago tried to take control of the game but for the most part, America held on firmly. Their one-touch passes, running and ability to understand where a teammate would run to were key to their performance.
The quick-paced style slightly overpowered Chicago since the MLS is all about building up slowly and taking a breather at times. In Mexico, the game is played at a much quicker pace and less physically, which gives time and room for players to operate more comfortably.
If Chicago and the rest of the MLS does not catch up, Liga MX will soon be years ahead in development.