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Crew set to host Cruz Azul in Campeones Cup in September

The 2021 Campeones Cup will be the first international event at Lower.com Field.

MLS: New York City FC at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

History will be made in Columbus on Sept. 29 with the first cup final at Lower.com Field. The Columbus Crew is set to host the 2021 Campeones Cup against Liga MX club Cruz Azul at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2, TUDN and Univision. The match is contested every year between the MLS Cup champions and the winners of Mexico’s Campeon de Campeones.

The Black & Gold will be the third different MLS club to play in the one-game North American final after winning the 2020 MLS Cup last December against the Seattle Sounders. Since the Campeones Cup’s inception in 2018, the MLS team has hosted each time as Columbus welcomes a very good Cruz Azul side in the Fall.

Cruz Azul booked its spot in the game after a 2-1 win on Sunday in the Campeon de Campeones. La Maquina were the champions of the second half of the 2020-21 Liga MX season, Torneo Guardianes 2021 and defeated the first half champions, Torneo Guadianes 2020, Club Leon, in the match on Sunday. Like MLS, Cruz Azul will be the third different team to play in the Campeones Cup.

The first two editions of the competition both produced exciting results with each league getting a victory. The inaugural Campeones Cup was won by Tigres UANL 3-1 against Toronto FC at BMO Field in Canada. Current Crew star Lucas Zelarayan played 88 minutes for the winning Liga MX side on the day.

The last Campeones Cup was two years ago in the Peach State where Atlanta United held on to an exciting 3-2 victory against Club America at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Current Black & Gold midfielder Darlington Nagbe played the full match for the Five Stripes, giving the 2021 Crew roster two champions of this competition.

Both Columbus and Cruz Azul were a part of the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League when the Crew was eliminated by Liga MX side Monterrey in the quarterfinals. Cruz Azul advanced to the semifinals of the competition after defeating Toronto FC in the quarterfinals. La Maquina will face Rayados in the semifinal on Aug. 12 and Sept. 16.

The two clubs have a combined 25 domestic trophies but the Crew is still in search of its first international trophy, something Cruz Azul has in abundance. Cruz Azul has won the Champions League once before in 2013-14 and claimed five CONCACAF Champions Cup, so the club is familiar with success in the region and globe. The Black & Gold aspire to those heights and this match in September is a perfect chance to begin that for the club and the stadium.

Lower.com Field is currently set to host 12 more Crew matche,s but the hope is the stadium will be the venue for an all-important FIFA World Cup qualifier in November. The United States men’s national team is scheduled to host Mexico on Nov. 12 with a venue still to be determined.

Columbus has hosted five competitive U.S.-Mexico games at historic Crew Stadium and with a world-class facility now in Lower.com Field, the chances the game could return to Ohio’s capital seem high. If there is still doubt, the Campeones Cup is a great showcase of an America vs. Mexico soccer game and what the atmosphere could be like for future international matches.

Before the Crew host Cruz Azul, the squad has 14 MLS regular season matches with two upcoming this week. Columbus will host Nashville SC at Lower.com Field on Wednesday and travel to Atlanta United for a nationally televised Saturday game from Mercedes-Benz Stadium.