Major League Soccer (MLS) 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.
The qualified MLS teams for this year’s tournament are Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City SC, 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.
The leagues also confirmed the return of Campeones Cup, the annual clash of both leagues’ champions, for late September, featuring MLS Cup Champion Columbus Crew SC.
“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.”
Mikel Arriola, LIGA MX Executive President said: “The announcement regarding the return of Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup is crucial for the project to internationalize LIGA MX. We know that North America has a large number of fans, and over 30% on average of the audience for our league’s games comes from the United States, which speaks to the importance of getting closer to our fanbase in the northern region of the continent. I’m sure that with Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup we will enjoy a great show.”
Leagues Cup and 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 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.
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 Concacaf Champions League, starting with the new format in 2023, positioning Leagues Cup as an important part of the North American soccer landscape.
In its third edition, Campeones Cup 2021 will feature Columbus Crew SC, the reigning MLS Cup champion, against the winner of LIGA MX’s Campeón de Campeones, expected to be played this summer. Campeones Cup is scheduled for the week of September 27 and will be played at the New Crew Stadium, set to debut later this year in Columbus, a city that has hosted some of the most iconic and important USA-Mexico matches in the history of the rivalry.
The two previous editions of Campeones Cup have been split, with MLS and LIGA MX claiming one title each, after Tigres UANL conquered Toronto FC in the inaugural 2018 edition, and Atlanta United defeated Club América 3-2 in the exciting 2019 match, played in front of over 40,000 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Campeones Cup History
2021 Columbus Crew SC vs. LIGA MX TBD New Crew Stadium, Columbus, OH
2019 Atlanta United 3, Club América 2 Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
2018 Tigres UANL 3, Toronto FC 1 BMO Field, Toronto, Canada