The new Leagues Cup explained: How it relates with the CONCACAF Champions League

The Liga MX and MLS seasons will pause when the Leagues Cup starts every summer. The Top 3 teams will qualify automatically to the Round of 16 of the CONCACAF Champions League.

Leagues Cup
Leagues Cup

The CONCACAF Leagues Cup is an annual competition played by clubs from the American Major League Soccer and the Mexican Liga MX. The competition was founded in 2019 and four teams each from the MLS and the Liga MX participated in the maiden competition. The competition was designed to operate as a single-elimination knockout tournament where the MLS club hosts the first two rounds of the competition. The first edition in 2019 was won by Cruz Azul. 

The changes to the Leagues Cup in 2021

Now the format of the Leagues Cup has been changed with the changes set to take effect from 2023. The first major change is that all clubs from the MLS and the Liga MX will now be included in the Leagues Cup and the top 3 teams in the Leagues Cup will qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League. 

The new Leagues Cup explained

This means that starting from the 2023 Leagues Cup competition, all Liga MX clubs and MLS clubs will automatically qualify and play in the Leagues Cup. The Liga MX season and the MLS season will be put on hold in the summer for one month to allow the competition to take place. The Champions, runner-up and third-placed team will be given automatic tickets to the CONCACAF Champions League. Thus, the expanded CONCACAF Champions League from 2024 will see teams from North America entering at the Round of 16 stages after competing in the Leagues Cup. 

The previous winners of the Leagues Cup

Mexican side, Cruz Azul won the inaugural edition of the Leagues Cup in 2019. The Juan Reynoso-led Azul side defeated Tigres UANL in the final by a scoreline of 2 goals to one. The final was held at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Whitley, Nevada State. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 edition of the Leagues Cup was cancelled.

Leon won the 2021 Leagues Cup

In 2021, another Mexican side, Leon came out victors in the Leagues Cup. Leon defeated MLS side, Seattle Sounders FC 3-2 in a pulsating final held at the Allegiant Stadium, Paradise, Nevada State. There was a significant increase in the number of fans that watched the 2021 final, up to 24,824 fans from the 20,132 fans in 2019. The 2022 final will be held at the same Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada State.

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