Club Leon take Leagues Cup title in a competition that is about to change forever

September 23 – The second and last of North America’s Leagues Cup in its current format – an eight-team competition between the top MLS and LigaMX clubs – was played out last night in the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Club Leon from LigaMX won the final beating Seattle Sounders from the MLS 3-2 in front of a crowd of 24,824. A small crowd for the 60,000+ Allegiant but not an insignificant number for a mid-week match-up between two teams in a fledgling competition that is about to undergo a monumental change.

Mexican clubs traditionally have had a hex on clubs from the MLS. Cruz Azul won the inaugural title last year, while LigaMx clubs have won Concacaf’s Champions League for the past 16 seasons.

For a while in Las Vegas it looked like the Mexican club dominance was about to get shaken. With the scores level at 0-0 at half time, Seattle took the lead in the 48th-minute with goal from Cristian Roldan.

It was a shortlived lead. Ángel Mena equalised on 60 minutes before scoring from the penalty spot on 81 minutes.  Club Leon’s Emmanuel Gigliotti scored a third to seal the result. Nicolas Benezet pulled back a consolation goal in time added on.

Changing times

The major significance of the Leagues Cup is that from 2023 the top two first division leagues of Major League Soccer and LigaMX will both pause their seasons for a month during the summer to play a radically Leagues Cup involving all their clubs.

The announcement dovetailed with Concacaf’s overhaul of its own regional club competition eco-system, including establishing new regional club competitions in Central America and the Caribbean and expanding the structure of its Champions League to 27 participating teams.

Trumpeted as “showcasing the soccer infrastructure and capabilities in the region in the years leading into the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the U.S., Canada and Mexico – the first World Cup to feature 48 countries”, the Leagues Cup will be the first competition that has ever featured all the clubs from two of the world’s top flight leagues.

“The new Leagues Cup with every club in MLS and LIGA MX competing in an intense, month-long, World Cup style tournament will establish new standards for what is possible between our two leagues, and further showcase our players and clubs to a global audience,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

The new Leagues Cup will be a joint venture between Major League Soccer and LigaMX, both of whom generally rank among the top eight in attendance among global soccer leagues, and will qualify three teams for the expanded Concacaf Champions League.

Mikel Arriola, Executive President of LIGA MX said: “This is an example of coordination and goal alignment between the Confederation, MLS and LIGA MX. All parties involved converged on the objective to provide the fans of North American Futbol and all over the world greater entertainment and spectacle, provide MLS and LIGA MX clubs a more intensified competition schedule to raise playing standards and quality. In this way, economic benefits can be reinvested creating a virtuous cycle assisting the development of players, clubs, and marketing opportunities for futbol and sports in general.”

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