Sports

What is Leagues Cup? Format, key dates, and how to watch live

Major League Soccer and Liga MX have announced the dates, format, and hosting details for the first edition of the newly expanded Leagues Cup tournament.

Beginning in 2023, the revamped tournament will feature every single top-flight club from across the two leagues and should be hotly contested.

Read on for everything you need to know about the 2023 Leagues Cup:

The 2023 Leagues Cup will take place between July 21 and August 19, with both MLS and Liga MX pausing their domestic campaigns to compete. No regular-season matches in either league will be played while the competition runs.

The Leagues Cup is officially recognized by Concacaf as a major competition.

Every team from MLS and Liga MX will take place in a World Cup-style tournament featuring a group stage followed by knockout rounds, starting with the round of 32.

All teams entering into the group stage will play at least two matches, with the top two teams from each group progressing.

However, the 2022 MLS Cup champion will enter directly into the knockout rounds. Of the two LIGA MX recent champions in Clausura 2022 and Apertura 2022, the club with the most combined points accumulated across both tournaments in the 2022 calendar year will also skip the group stage.

The groups will be split into four regions: East, West, South, and Central. There will be no ties during this phase of the competition, with all drawn games decided by a penalty shootout. Each team will receive one point if the game is level after 90 minutes, with the shootout winner then taking an extra point.

The teams who finished 2nd-16th in the MLS Supporters’ Shield race will be seeded first in each group, while Liga MX teams from 2nd-16th based on total points from Clausura 2022 and Apertura 2022 will take the second spot. The final 13 MLS and two LIGA MX clubs will be drawn into groups and divided geographically.

Following the group stage, knockout rounds will be played starting with the last 32 and ending with the final on August 19. There will also be a third-place match.

Every single match from the 2023 Leagues Cup will be shown live as part of Major League Soccer’s new 10-year partnership with Apple TV. Additional broadcast information will be announced at a later date.

The winner of the 2023 Leagues Cup will earn direct entry to the Concacaf Champions League round-of-16 stage, while the runner-up and third-place team will also qualify for the tournament’s earlier round.

There is also a ‘substantial’ yet unspecificed cash prize fund up for grabs.

All 77 Leagues Cup matches in 2023 will be hosted exclusively at MLS stadiums across both the United States and Canada.

Matches featuring two Liga MX teams will also be hosted at MLS stadiums, which will be assigned depending on geographical region.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber: “Leagues Cup 2023 is an important step in the partnership between MLS and LIGA MX, and we’re pleased to unveil key competition elements for next summer’s tournament.  There has never been anything like Leagues Cup in major professional sports on this continent or anywhere else, and we believe the tournament will help elevate the profile of Concacaf throughout the world.” 

LIGA MX Executive President Mikel Arriola: “The arrival of Leagues Cup 2023 means a before and after in history, not only for the sport in our region, but for soccer worldwide. Additionally, our confederation endorses and gives an official status to the tournament, which will strengthen the competition for the 47participating clubs.

“For LIGA MX, this means spending a month with our great and growing fan base in the United States and creating new international opportunities, so that our clubs and players can show the world their talent and commitment to excellence. We are very excited about the arrival of Leagues Cup 2023 which, in addition to the preparations for the joint World Cup in 2026, will allow fans from all over the world and the global soccer industry itself to turn to see what is happening in Mexico, Canada and the United States.” 

Concacaf President and FIFA Vice President, Victor Montagliani: “This new Leagues Cup is an exciting part of an entirely new Concacaf club ecosystem that we have developed after significant consultation with MLS and Liga MX. It will provide a huge boost to club football across the entire region.

“Now that it has come together, I want to personally thank Liga MX President Mikel Arriola and MLS Commissioner Don Garber for the leadership they have shown in collaborating with Concacaf on this new competition’s structure. The way we have worked together as stakeholders, alongside the UNCAF and CFU regions of Concacaf, is a true sign of a strong partnership.“We believe that we are now in a great position to provide immense growth to the league and club game in our region. It is a very exciting time for the development of club football in Concacaf.”

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