All MLS & LIGA MX Clubs to Pause Seasons for Historic Leagues Cup Starting in 2023
September 21, 2021 - Major League Soccer (MLS) News Release
NEW YORK & MEXICO CITY - In a monumental new chapter for North American soccer, beginning in 2023, all of the clubs from the top two first division leagues in North America -- Major League Soccer and LIGA MX -- will compete in a completely reimagined Leagues Cup: an annual, month-long, tournament. Both leagues will pause their respective seasons for one month during the summer to play Leagues Cup, 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.
FIFA Vice President and Concacaf President Victor Montagliani joined MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Liga MX President Mikel Arriola at a press conference in New York for today's historic announcement. Montagliani, Garber and Arriola announced that the new Leagues Cup will be an official competition of the Concacaf Champions League (CCL), with the tournament champion earning automatic qualification for the CCL round of 16. In addition, clubs finishing second and third in Leagues Cup starting in 2023 will qualify for the Opening Round of the CCL.
As the latest and most ambitious step in the growing partnership between MLS and LIGA MX to further elevate the special rivalry between leagues, Leagues Cup 2023 will make history as the first major soccer tournament to feature every club from a pair of top-flight leagues.
"The new Leagues Cup with every club in MLS and LIGA MX competing in an intense, month-long, 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. "Since its launch 3Â½ years ago, our partnership with LIGA MX has grown quickly and the competition has brought out the best in both of us. On the path to the FIFA World Cup in 2026 hosted by the U.S., Canada and Mexico, this is the perfect moment to produce a tournament that will elevate the profile of Concacaf and showcase the incredible passion our region has for soccer played at the highest level."
Mikel Arriola, Executive President of LIGA MX said, "We are in a celebratory mood given the historic announcement about the new competition ecosystem established by Concacaf in which there will be an expansion of Leagues Cup. 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." Arriola closed by stating, "This day represents a before and after for the whole North America, Central America, and Caribbean regions as they will greatly benefit from this agreement."
The new Leagues Cup will be a joint venture between Major League Soccer and LIGA MX -- two of global soccer's most competitive, popular and exciting leagues -- both full of rising and established stars who compete for dozens of national teams throughout the world. MLS and LIGA MX generally rank among the top eight in attendance among global soccer leagues.
Leagues Cup 2023 and beyond is part of the evolution of the successful partnership between MLS and LIGA MX launched in 2018 with Campeones Cup. The partnership is rooted in the on-field rivalry but connected by a true spirit of collaboration off the field, with a focus on sharing best practices, growing the beautiful game in North America, and being a force for positive change in the communities of both leagues. In competition, recent initiatives have included the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, where the best of MLS faced the LIGA MX All-Stars in Los Angeles on August 25, and Campeones Cup, an annual match between the reigning champions of the two leagues. Columbus Crew SC will host Cruz Azul in the 2021 Campeones Cup on Sept. 29. Leagues Cup 2023 -- and future editions of the tournament -- is the grand-scale transformation of Leagues Cup, which began in 2019 and continues this season and in 2022. Seattle Sounders FC take on Club León in the 2021 Leagues Cup Final tomorrow, Sept. 22 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Additional details regarding the annual, reimagined Leagues Cup will continue to be unveiled in the coming months.
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