Major League Soccer (MLS) and LIGA MX, with the support of Concacaf, announced today important competition details, including dates, format and hosting process, for the inaugural edition of the historic and highly-anticipated Leagues Cup 2023.
In a monumental new chapter for North American soccer, beginning in 2023, MLS and LIGA MX will pause their respective league seasons each summer and all 47 first division clubs in Canada, Mexico and the United States will compete in the World Cup-style tournament. The top three finishers will qualify for the Concacaf Champions League (CCL) with the Leagues Cup winner qualifying directly to the CCL Round of 16 while the second- and third-place clubs will qualify for CCL Round One.
Sporting Kansas City will host a LIGA MX opponent at Children’s Mercy Park and travel to face an MLS foe during the Leagues Cup 2023 group stage. Leagues Cup tickets will be available to the general public in the coming months and Sporting’s group stage home match is included in all Sporting Kansas City Season Ticket Memberships.
Leagues Cup debuted as an eight-team tournament in 2019 and Sporting competed in the most recent edition of the competition in 2021, playing eventual champions Club Leon in the quarterfinals. Sporting will be in pursuit of the club’s first international trophy in team history after winning four major domestic championships in the last decade.
SKC VS. LIGA MX TEAMS AT CHILDREN’S MERCY PARK
Aug. 10, 2021 vs. Club Leon (Leagues Cup Quarterfinals)
April 11, 2019 vs. CF Monterrey (CCL Semifinals)
Feb. 21, 2019 vs. Deportivo Toluca FC (CCL Round of 16)
March 12, 2014 vs. Cruz Azul (CCL Quarterfinals)
Leagues Cup 2023 will be played across the U.S. and Canada beginning on July 21 with the final to be held on August 19. An event unprecedented in global soccer as the first official competition in the world to involve two leagues and be sanctioned by their Confederation, the inaugural Leagues Cup will consist of 77 matches.
For Leagues Cup 2023, one club each from MLS and LIGA MX will receive a bye past the Group Stage and enter the tournament in the Round of 32. MLS will be represented by the MLS Cup 2022 winner. For LIGA MX, of the two 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 qualify directly into the Round of 32. The remaining 45 clubs will be divided into 15 groups of three clubs each. The 15 groups will be divided into four regions.
The Group Stage placement for MLS teams will be based on the final 2022 Supporters’ Shield standings. The top 15 MLS Clubs will each be placed in groups based on seeding, as well as by region, and will host two matches each. The top 15 LIGA MX clubs - based on the combined Clausura 2022 and Apertura 2022 standings - will be placed into groups in reverse order from the MLS clubs (No. 15 LIGA MX seeded club will be paired with No. 1 MLS seeded club and so on).
The remaining 13 MLS clubs, together with the two remaining LIGA MX clubs, will be drawn into groups and divided geographically. The 13 MLS clubs will each host one Group Stage match each. LIGA MX v. LIGA MX matches will be played at select venues depending on region. The Leagues Cup 2023 schedule will be announced in the coming months.
Every team will play two matches in the Group Stage with the top two teams from each group, as determined by points, advancing to the Knockout Stage Round of 32. For tiebreakers and other competition items, the Leagues Cup Competition Guidelines will be published in the coming months.
No matches in the Leagues Cup Group Stage will end in a tie. Each team will receive one point if the match is tied after 90 minutes. The winner of the subsequent penalty kicks will earn an additional point. Regulation wins count as three points.
Following the Group Stage, the advancing teams will be joined by the top MLS and LIGA MX clubs and will be placed in a fixed bracket to compete in the single-game elimination Knockout Rounds beginning with the Round of 32 and continuing until August 19 when the Leagues Cup Final and Third-Place games will be played.
As part of the multiyear partnership between MLS and Apple, fans around the world will be able to watch the entire Leagues Cup tournament on the Apple TV app, which is available on Apple devices, smart TVs, streaming devices from Roku, Amazon, and Google, game consoles, and the web at tv.apple.com. Additional broadcast information in Canada, Mexico and U.S. will be announced at a later date.
Leagues Cup 2023 is part of the evolution of the successful partnership between MLS and LIGA MX that launched in 2018. The partnership is rooted in 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.