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MLS, Liga MX Announce Launch of Leagues Cup Tournament Starting in Summer of 2023

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 21, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: One of the Adidas game balls with the logo to MLS and signature by Don Garber Commissioner of Major League Soccer on the pitch for the home opener match against between New York City FC and FC Cincinnati at Yankee Stadium on April 24, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images)
Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

Major League Soccer and Liga MX announced Tuesday they are partnering on a new monthlong tournament that will begin in 2023.

Major League Soccer @MLS

3 nations. 2 leagues. 1 trophy.<a href="https://twitter.com/LeaguesCup?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LeaguesCup</a> is expanding in 2023 to include every club from MLS and LIGA MX. <a href="https://t.co/LGk6U6eZBG">pic.twitter.com/LGk6U6eZBG</a>

According to ESPN's Jeff Carlisle, the Leagues Cup will resemble an international tournament. Forty-seven teams from the two leagues will compete in a group phase and knockout stage to determine a winner.

Previously, the Leagues Cup consisted of four teams from MLS and four teams from Liga MX, and the matches were scheduled to run concurrently with the domestic campaigns. The Seattle Sounders will play Leon at Allegiant Stadium on Wednesday in the final.

The revamped Leagues Cup will supplement a newly formatted CONCACAF Champions League. The winner of the tournament earns a place in the Champions League round of 16, while the second- and third-place finishers qualify for the opening round.

Leagues Cup @LeaguesCup

All you need to know about the new <a href="https://twitter.com/Concacaf?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Concacaf</a> club competitions structure, starting from 2024.<br><br>For more information → <a href="https://t.co/L7nDcE7Lj6">https://t.co/L7nDcE7Lj6</a> <a href="https://t.co/JcqU9rkODN">pic.twitter.com/JcqU9rkODN</a>

In recent months, a merger between MLS and Liga MX has been floated with the idea they'd be stronger together than apart. Perhaps the Leagues Cup is a sort of compromise where the leagues retain their independence while growing the continental game.

Historically, Liga MX clubs have dominated the Champions League. D.C. United (1998) and the Los Angeles Galaxy (2000) are the only MLS sides to have claimed a title.

Timing is often a problem for MLS representatives.

The reigning champion Columbus Crew, for example, had a two-legged tie with Real Esteli in April before they kicked off their domestic season. Ten days after their home opener, they were right back in the CCL against Monterrey in the quarterfinals. 

MLS commissioner Don Garber believes the Leagues Cup "puts everybody on equal footing" because of how it's laid out, per Carlisle.