Columbus Crew players told reporters upon arriving in Mexico that they are there to obtain a result.
Given the respective clubs' current form, Columbus might be considered the favorite to some. Columbus has lost just three games this season while Cruz Azul have hit the skids at home, having lost their last two league matches.
Still, if Columbus are favored, it's news to Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
"I can't say whether or not we're the favorites," Barros Schelotto told a throng of reporters upon Columbus' arrival in Mexico City on Tuesday. "Perhaps the American and Mexican clubs are expected to win before the game starts but once the game gets underway everything changes."
Columbus hold a 10-3-9 record and are tied with Colorado with most goals in MLS with 34. Playing in Mexico City, though, will be difficult for the Crew.
"Only one game has been played thus far. We won and so did Cruz Azul," Alejandro Moreno told reporters. "So, nobody has been able to show much more beyond that. Regardless of the differences between all the leagues, home teams are tough."
Playing in Estadio Azul will be different than playing in an MLS stadium, though. Mexico City sits at high altitude but beyond that Columbus face historic odds. An MLS team has never beaten a Mexican team in Mexico since the CONCACAF Champions Cup began featuring home-and-away series in 2002.
Still, Barros Schelotto cautioned against ruling any club out.
"Last year a team like Puerto Rico advanced all the way to the semifinals," Barros Schelotto said. "There is a more to these games than just what people analyze prior to the game."
Columbus won't trot out a club full of reserves, however. Neither Barros Schelotto nor Moreno said their club would send backups out against la Maquina.
"We take this tournament very seriously," Moreno told reporters at the Mexico City airport. "We came here to get an important result... We have our game plan set and hopefully we can maintain our discipline and get the result."
Columbus' game plan for success is already set, players said.
"We want to manage the ball well, not spectacularly, not trying to make things more complicated then they have to be," he said. "We're going to play to win. The manager said this game is important and for that reason I don't think we'll bench the starters since the objective is to win."
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