Mexico

PALO ALTO, CA - JULY 19:  Fans of Club America cheer on their team before taking on Inter Milan during the World Football Challenge at Stanford Stadium on July 19, 2009 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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VIDEO: Club America wins record-breaking CCL title

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Liga MX’s Club America won their second-straight CONCACAF Champions League title on Wednesday as the Mexican side won a record-breaking seventh continental title.

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America beat Tigres UANL 2-1 in the second leg at the Estadio Azteca in Mexcio City to win the trophy 4-1 on aggregate and they’ve now overtaken Cruz Azul (six titles) as the most successful team in the region.

After winning 2-0 in the first leg of the CCL final, America fell behind as French international Andre-Pierre Gignac scored in the first half to make it 2-1 on aggregate to give Tigres a chance and make America nervous.

However substitute Michael Arroyo scored a beauty moments after coming on and a late penalty kick from Osvaldo Martinez sealed the trophy as Club America once again conquered North and Central America. U.S. national team defender Ventura Alvarado was an unused sub for America.

Watch the videos below to see highlights as Club America beat their Liga MX foes to lift the trophy at their home stadium and also qualify for the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan this December.

Mexican Soccer Federation asks fans to boot anti-gay chants

SANDY UT- OCTOBER 13: Mexican team members and their fans celebrate the 2-0 win by Mexico over Honduras after the final CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying match at Rio Tinto Stadium on October 13, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images
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MEXICO CITY (AP) The Mexican Soccer Federation has launched a campaign urging fans to refrain from anti-gay chants that drew fines from FIFA earlier this year.

The campaign called “Embraced by Soccer” consists of a couple of 30-second videos featuring popular national team stars such as forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, captain Rafael Marquez and Andres Guardado.

[ USMNT: Guatemala recap | Player ratings | 3 things ]

They were released hours before Mexico hosted Canada in a 2018 World Cup qualifier Tuesday. The federation says the clips aim to discourage “a practice that is contrary to respect and the dignity of people.”

Mexico fans are known for yelling a gay slur during kicks by opposing goalkeepers, something that gained global attention during the 2014 World Cup.

In January FIFA fined Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay for what it called “insulting and discriminatory” chants.

Litmus test time in all three groups of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying

NASHVILLE, TN - JULY 03:  Michael Bradley #4 of the United States chases a ball during the first half of an international friendly match against Guatemala at Nissan Stadium  on July 3, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
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The masks come off after “middle pair” of group matches in the third round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.

That’s when possible pretenders who slid through the first two matches may meet the toughest foe of the group, or powers who got a tough road match out of the way might get a home-and-home with group minnows.

[ USMNT: Scouting Guatemala ahead of the qualifiers ]

As it stands now, Canada and Trinidad & Tobago would be new Hex teams for this year’s qualifying, while Honduras and Jamaica would fall out of the mix. It’s litmus test time for the Canucks and the Soca Warriors.

Group A

After easing past El Salvador, Mexico got a hassle from Honduras before picking up a pair of second half goals to win on the road. They now get a tricky match-up with Canada.

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 11: Nikolas Ledgerwood #2 of Canada heads the ball against Marco Fabian #10 of Mexico at CenturyLink Field on July 11, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Mexico doesn’t always fare well when heading far North, and BC Place in Vancouver is a tricky outing against a well-coached Canada. No one’s expecting the Reds to win in Mexico next week, but keeping within two points of Mexico is not out of the question.

It’s do-or-die for Honduras, who gets El Salvador for a pair of matches. The Hondurans finished 30th and 31st at the last two World Cups, and have never made it to three-straight tourneys. That could be impossible after this week. On the flip side, El Salvador hasn’t been to a World Cup in eight cycles and could make it nine.

Standings (points / goal diff)
1. Mexico — 6 / +5
2. Canada — 4 / +1
3. El Salvador — 1 / -3
4. Honduras — 0 / -3

Group B

Costa Rica Jamaica in their CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B match at StubHub Center on July 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
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Looks like there isn’t a walkover in the group, as Haiti dropped a pair of 1-0 decisions to Costa Rica and Jamaica and now faces Panama for two-straight matches.

This week’s matches carry all sorts of unpredictability, as Jamaica and Haiti home wins on Friday would overturn the group apple cart and put pressure on the opposition for Leg No. 2.

Standings (points / goal diff)
1. Costa Rica — 6 / +2
2. Panama — 3 / +1
3. Jamaica — 3 / -1
4. Haiti — 0 / -2

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Group C

In the United States’ case, it’s somewhere in the middle. Beating up St. Vincent and The Grenadines at home was expected, and picking up a draw at Trinidad and Tobago isn’t a problem.

NASHVILLE, TN - JULY 03: Mix Diskerud #10 of the United States chases Jairo Arreloa #7 of Guatemala during the first half of an international friendly soccer match at Nissan Stadium on July 3, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Guatemala is somewhere in the middle, not the easiest win on the road, and an expected three points on home soil.

[ USMNT: Dortmund’s Pulisic could join up for second match ]

Losing points at all will likely have the Yanks behind T&T when this international break is through, as the Soca Warriors should have little problem taking six points from St. Vincent and The Grenadines.

Standings (points / goal diff)
1. USMNT — 4 / +5
2. T&T — 4 / +1
3. Guatemala — 3 / +3
4. St. Vincent and The Grenadines — 0 / -9

Mexico wants to host its third World Cup in 2026

FILE - In this July 13, 2014 file picture Germany's Andre Schuerrle celebrates with the trophy after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Germany won the match 1-0. World Cup winner Andre Schuerrle has returned to the Bundesliga to join Wolfsburg from Chelsea. Wolfsburg confirmed the deal with the English Premier League leader late Monday Feb. 2, 2015, shortly before the transfer deadline expired in Germany. The signing of the 24-year-old Germany attacking midfielder underscores Wolfsburg's ambition to become Bayern Munich's closest challenger in the Bundesliga.  (AP Photo/Martin Meissner,file)
AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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MEXICO CITY (AP) Mexico says it remains interested in hosting the 2026 World Cup, indicating it will make a bid to become the first country to host the event three times.

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Mexico Football Federation president Decio De Maria said Friday that he shared the ambition of his predecessor Justino Compean to host the event, saying that “Mexico will hold the hand high and follow up with the FIFA procedures to hold the tournament.”

“It means a big commitment but most Mexicans will feel very proud to organize a third World Cup,” De Maria said. “As soon as the process begins within FIFA, Mexico will be present.”

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Canada and Colombia are other nations which have signaled their intent to bid for 2026. Colombia had been due to host the 1986 event but due to instability in the country, it was switched at short notice to Mexico, which had also been host in 1970.

A bid is also expected from the United States, though no formal announcement had been made. The U.S. bid unsuccessfully for the 2022 World Cup which was awarded to Qatar, shortly before FIFA became caught up in a wide-ranging corruption scandal.

Mexico’s 2026 bid will be bolstered by recent and upcoming investment in new stadiums.

[ MORE: Infantino holds pick-up game on his first day at the office ]

Santos Laguna opened its Estadio Corona in 2009, Guadalajara constructed the Estadio Omnilfe in 2010 and Monterrey built the Estadio BBVA last year. UANL Tigres, last year’s Copa Libertadores runner-up, will build a new one by 2018.

Puebla’s Cuauhtemoc stadium was remodeled last year with a $40 million investment. Currently, Mexico City’s Azteca stadium is being adapted to celebrate its 60th anniversary and to host NFL games in the next few years.

CONCACAF Champions League preview: The MLS vs. Liga MX showdown

Los Angeles Galaxy forward Robbie Keane, center, celebrates as Seattle Sounders midfielder Gonzalo Pineda kneels on the pitch after Keane scored a goal in the first half of an MLS soccer match, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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Which league is “better” — Major League Soccer or Liga MX?

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It’s the question we’ve been agonizing over since the dawn of time literally only three or four years now. MLS has closed the gap a bit more every year this decade, but Liga MX retains the upper hand in just about every measurable category — money, TV ratings, tenure, top-to-bottom quality of players and, most importantly, a decided advantage in head-to-head clashes between the leagues.

Nevertheless, MLS gets its latest chance to measure itself against its southern neighbors each of the next two weeks, as the quarterfinals of the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League couldn’t have been drawn up anymore perfectly — four MLS sides set to do battle with four from Liga MX.

Queretaro vs. D.C. United — Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET

Of the four MLS sides, D.C. United were handed by far the most favorable draw — Queretaro are toiling away in the bottom third of Liga MX (7 points from 7 games, five places out of the playoff picture) — but unfortunately, if you’re an MLS backer, look perhaps the least capable of making the most of it.

Having undergone a number of important changes during the offseason (Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius, Jairo Arrieta and Conor Doyle out; Lamar Neagle (who is cup-tied to Seattle), Marcelo Sarvas, Luciano Acosta and Patrick Nyarko in), head coach Ben Olsen will need at least a few weeks to work out his best 11 early in the season. The Black and Gold will also be without star goalkeeper Bill Hamid (knee surgery) until the summer months.

How they got here: Queretaro — won Group C, which featured San Francisco (Panama) and Verdes (Belize) | D.C. United — won Group H, which featured Arabe Unido (Panama) and Montego Bay United (Jamaica)

[ MORE: Yaya Toure prefers MLS to China in summer move from Man City ]

Seattle Sounders vs. Club America — Tuesday, 10 p.m. ET

Speaking of an MLS side going through something of a rebuild (this will become a theme — remember, MLS sides’ greatest disadvantage in CCL is that they begin the knockout stage in the midst of preseason), up next are the Seattle Sounders, who have tasked with the dubious challenge of dethroning the reigning CCL champions, Club America. Making matters worse, they’ll have to do so without China-bound Obafemi Martins, their talisman for the last two seasons and scorer and 32 goals during that time. Thanks to Martins’ departure, the pressure on Jordan Morris is so very real from the moment his professional career begins Tuesday night.

Also gone from are Neagle, Marco Pappa, Gonzalo Pineda, Leo Gonzalez and Andy Rose from a Sounders side that finished fourth in the Western Conference and was knocked out of the playoffs by FC Dallas in the conference semifinals. The America side they’ll face twice over the next nine days is downright frightening, yet still seems a couple notches from top gear at present, at least during early days of the Liga MX season. Still on the books and terrifying opposition defenses are Oribe Peralta, Rubens Sambueza and last year’s CCL ringer, Dario Benedetto.

How they got here: Seattle Sounders — won Group F, which featured Olimpia (Honduras) and Vancouver Whitecaps | Club America — won group E, which featured Motagua (Honduras) and Walter Ferretti (Nicaragua)

[ MORE: Is MLS an option for John Terry once he leaves Chelsea? ]

Tigres vs. Real Salt Lake — Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET

No MLS side has been closer to winning CCL in its current format than Real Salt Lake, who lost the second leg of the 2011 final at home to fall just short of becoming the first MLS team to get over the proverbial hump. The biggest offseason improvement for Jeff Cassar’s side comes in the form of former RSL and now-European veteran striker Yura Movsisyan, who’ll be asked to lead an offensive resurgence after the Claret and Cobalt scored just 38 goals in 34 regular season games in 2015. The core of the side remains mostly intact, though, as Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman, Jamison Olave and Nick Rimando are back for one last go at CCL glory.

Unfortunately for them, arguably the best player currently plying his trade in CONCACAF stands between them and another semifinals appearance. Andre-Pierre Gignac, who moved from Marseille to Tigres last summer, took Liga MX by storm in his first half-season in Mexico, bagging 11 goals during the regular season and another four during the playoffs en route to the 2015 Apertura title. Gignac only turned 30 a couple months ago and looks likely to make Tigres a nearly unstoppable force for the duration of his stay.

How they got here: Tigres — won Group B, which featured Herediano (Costa Rica) and Isidro Metapan (El Salvador) | Real Salt Lake — won Group G, which featured Municipal (Guatemala) and Santa Tecla (El Salvador)

[ MORE: Needless MLS transfer saga resolved as Nocerino ends up in Orlando ]

LA Galaxy vs. Santos Laguna — Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET

No MLS side had a bigger (or better?) offseason than the LA Galaxy, who critically parted ways with longtime servants Omar Gonzalez and Juninho before restocking the ranks with their triple swoop for Nigel de Jong, Ashley Cole and Jelle Van Damme. Jeff Larentowicz and Mike Magee, a pair of MLS veterans, also arrived via free agency and will provide the kind of quality depth that was sometimes missing in 2015. How quickly the three foreign acquisitions are integrated into their new squad will go a long way toward deciding the Galaxy’s CCL fate.

Perhaps the biggest storyline surrounding the Galaxy this season, though, is the $6.3-million question: what exactly will they get from Steven Gerrard, who was downright awful and detrimental to the side after arriving in August of last season? With De Jong brought in to play the destroyer role just ahead of the backline, Gerrard will be allowed to venture forward and affect games in the typical ways we’re used to seeing him do, but for how much longer will his soon-to-be 36-year-old legs hold up to that task in a physically demanding league like MLS, not to mention the travel and the turf and all those other unexpected challenges? Surely he’ll be better this season than last, but by how much will shape the Galaxy’s 2016 campaign a great deal.

How they got here: LA Galaxy — won Group D, which featured Central (Trinidad and Tobago) and Comunicaciones (Guatemala) | Santos Laguna — won Group A, which featured Saprissa (Costa Rica) and W Conection (Trinidad and Tobago)