In a major step to increase the importance of the Leagues Cup, both MLS and Liga MX announced on Tuesday that the leagues will pause their seasons for a month starting with the 2023 edition of the competition. All MLS and Liga MX teams will participate in the new format, and the ante has also been upped for the annual competition.
The Leagues Cup is a summer competition and began in 2019. It was called off last season due to the COVID pandemic, and is currently in its third edition with the Seattle Sounders and Leon meeting in the final on Wednesday.
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The Leagues Cup will now feature three qualification spots for the Concacaf Champions League, including direct qualification to the round of 16. This new version is being used as a showcase for the infrastructure and capabilities of the region leading into the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
CCL round of 16 qualification will go to the winner, while the teams finishing second and third automatically make the opening round.
"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," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a press release. "Since its launch three-and-a-half 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."
The news of the tournament expanding and offering CCL qualification could be a good move for the region as the tournament has been criticized for some teams not fielding their strongest players.The quality on the pitch should be even more improved as Liga MX and MLS continue to work together and help each other grow throughout North America.