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.
This announcement sets the stage for the annual, month-long competition that will crown the winner among MLS and LIGA MX. The champion, as well as the second and third place finishers will qualify for the Concacaf Champions League and 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.
Leagues Cup Format
An event unprecedented in the global game, the inaugural Leagues Cup will consist of 77 matches.
Leagues Cup 2023 Explainer
Group Stage, Seeding and Hosting: 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, 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). There will be at least one LIGA MX club per group.
The remaining 13 MLS clubs together with the 2 remaining LIGA MX clubs, will be divided geographically and drawn into groups. 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 and details 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 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.
Knockout Rounds: 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 (16 matches), followed by Round of 16 (eight matches). The eight advancing teams will compete in the Quarterfinals (four matches) before the two Semifinal matches.
Leagues Cup Final and Third-Place Game: The Leagues Cup 2023 Final and Third-Place game, which will determine the qualifiers in Concacaf Champions League, will be played on Saturday, August 19.
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.
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. As previously announced, IMG Arena will be the data distribution partner for Leagues Cup.
FC Cincinnati season ticket holders should contact their club representative for more information. Tickets will be available to the general public in the coming months.
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.
What They Are Saying About Leagues Cup 2023
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 47 participating 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 competitions 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.”
About Major League Soccer
Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer -- celebrating its 27th season in 2022 -- features 29 clubs throughout the United States and Canada, including 2022 expansion team Charlotte FC and St. Louis CITY SC, which debuts in 2023. Starting in 2023, the Apple TV app will be the exclusive destination to watch every single live MLS match. For more information about MLS, visit www.MLSsoccer.com.
About LIGA MX
LIGA MX is Mexican soccer’s first division, comprised of 18 clubs throughout the country and headquartered in a sporting complex in Toluca, Mexico. Visit www.LigaMX.net for more information.