May 30 – Major League Soccer from the US and Mexico’s Liga MX have released details of their new Leagues Cup to be played between eight teams from the two leading professional leagues in the Concacaf region.
The cross-leagues competition will debut this July – after the Concacaf Gold Cup has completed – and will be an annual competition with four teams from each league competing in a knock out format.
The MLS will be represented by the Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake, while Liga MX will send Club America, Cruz Azul, Tigres UANL and Club Tijuana. For the inaugural season teams have been invited, but in the future teams will likely have to qualify through league performance. There is also discussion about expanding the format to include more teams.
The first edition will see the bulk of fixtures in the US with the quarterfinals to be held at MLS stadiums July 23-24. Semi-finals will be played August 20 at a location determined by the qualifying teams, while the final will be played September 18 at a venue in the US.
“We are excited to take our partnership with Liga MX to the next level with Leagues Cup,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We have an intense rivalry between our national teams, and Leagues Cup provides a terrific opportunity to increase the growing rivalry between MLS and Liga MX clubs.”
The new competition marks a co-operative expansion of the relationship between the two leagues, The MLS and Liga MX recently launched the Campeones Cup, a one-off, annual fixture between the winners of the two domestic leagues.
Enrique Bonilla, Liga MX executive president, added: “The rivalry between Liga MX and MLS clubs as well as the sporting level of both competitions grows constantly. We believe that Leagues Cup will allow us to bring Liga MX and that great fanbase closer together, while fortifying our sport in the region.”
Concacaf’s own Champions League has seen Mexican clubs dominate the competition, winning the last 11 editions. The only US team to make a final was Real Salt lake in 2011. The Leagues Cup indicates the MLS is broadening its competition horizons both in terms of playing standards and international competition, but also in creating a new commercial opportunity for its teams.
Raising the standards of play in the Concacaf region is becoming an increased focus of Concacaf president Victor Montagliani who has been banging the drum hard for higher performing players, clubs and Concacaf nations.
“Concacaf is committed to continuing the development of competitions that will further unite the confederation and provide more opportunities to develop players and connect passionate fans across our region,” said Montagliani.
“The Leagues Cup organised by Liga MX and MLS further strengthens our sport in our confederation and is a precursor for future collaboration between Concacaf, Liga MX, MLS and other key stakeholders.”
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