Major League Soccer and LIGA MX announced today details regarding the return of Leagues Cup in 2021, the official annual single-elimination tournament that will again feature clubs from MLS and Mexico’s top-flight league, building on the leagues’ rivalry and presenting intense, high-level international competition for clubs and fans alike across North America.
After finishing the 2020 MLS regular season with 1.78 points per game, Orlando City SC will serve as one of the league’s four qualified teams alongside Sporting Kansas City, Seattle Sounders FC, and New York City FC. Participating LIGA MX clubs will be confirmed in May, at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season.
“We’re excited to re-start the Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup competitions in 2021 and continue to build on our partnership with LIGA MX,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We have seen the great rivalry that exists on the field between MLS and LIGA MX clubs, and these events provide a unique opportunity for fans to see their club compete in meaningful international competition while creating enormous interest and attention for both leagues.”
“To have qualified for the Leagues Cup, it means a lot for our franchise and our Club. Last year we achieved many objectives but this, and having that culture of doing things that can expose our players to mainly international competition, that’s very important,” Orlando City SC Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “We played a final last year, we qualified for the playoffs and having the opportunity to win titles already, this year we want to continue with the same thing.”
Leagues Cup, as well as today’s confirmed Campeones Cup, are part of a larger partnership between the two most important soccer leagues in North America, MLS and LIGA MX, launched in 2018. The partnership is rooted not only in the on-field rivalry, designed to strengthen the sport in the region, but by a true spirit of collaboration off it, with a focus on sharing best practices and on being a force for positive change in the local communities of both leagues.
Leagues Cup returns after a hiatus due to the pandemic and in 2021 will feature four clubs from each league in a single-elimination format. The participating MLS clubs, which will host the Quarterfinal matches, are the top two teams from each conference based on the 2020 regular season standings that are not scheduled to participate in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League. By this criteria, the participating MLS clubs in Leagues Cup will be Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City SC, Seattle Sounders FC, and New York City FC.
Further information on ticketing for Orlando’s home Quarterfinal match will be announced at a later date.
The tournament, to be played in its entirety in the U.S., is scheduled to begin the week of August 9 with Quarterfinal matches. The Semifinals are slated for the week of September 13, and the Leagues Cup Final, to be played in a neutral venue, is scheduled for the week of September 20.
LIGA MX teams will be announced at the conclusion of the current 2021 Clausura tournament, along with other schedule, competition, and venue details. The competition will be broadcast on Univision and ESPN networks and digital platforms in the United States, TSN and TVA Sports in Canada, and TUDN in Mexico.
Beyond the rivalry, Leagues Cup has taken on an increased focus for both MLS and LIGA MX clubs. Concacaf recently announced that Leagues Cup will have a qualifying slot to the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, starting with the new format in 2023, positioning Leagues Cup as an important part of the North American soccer landscape.
Photo Credit: Major League Soccer