The competition between Major League Soccer and Liga MX is about to ramp up. On Thursday, the two leagues, with Concacaf, unveiled their important competition details, including dates, format and hosting process for the inaugural edition of the historic and highly-anticipated Leagues Cup 2023.
Starting next summer, MLS and LIGA MX will pause their respective league seasons, and all 47 first division clubs in Canada, Mexico and the United States will compete in the World Cup-style tournament.
This announcement sets the stage for the annual, month-long competition that will crown the winner between MLS and LIGA MX. The champion, as well as the second and third place finishers will qualify for the Concacaf Champions League and have an opportunity to earn a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup.
Leagues Cup 2023 will begin on Friday, July 21 with the final taking place on Saturday, August 19. The tournament will be played across the U.S. and Canada.
The Leagues Cup 2023 schedule and details will be announced in the coming months.
How will the groups be determined?
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 2022 MLS Cup 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 and 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). There will be at least one LIGA MX club per group.
[Note: based on the current standings, FC Dallas will be one of the 15 MLS clubs that will be hosting two matches]
The remaining 13 MLS clubs, together with the two remaining LIGA MX clubs, will be divided geographically and drawn into groups. The 13 MLS clubs will host one Group Stage match each. LIGA MX v. LIGA MX matches will be played at select venues depending on the region.
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 2023 Competition Guidelines will be published in the coming months.
No matches in the Leagues Cup Group Stage will end in a tie. Each team receives one point if the game is tied after 90 minutes. The winner of the subsequent penalty kicks will earn an additional point. Regulation wins count as three points.
Concacaf Champions League Qualification
As previously announced by Concacaf, the Leagues Cup 2023 winner will qualify directly for the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16, and the second and third place Clubs will qualify for the Champions League Round One. This is the first official competition in the world to involve two leagues and be sanctioned by their Confederation.