The partnership and the attempt to co-create between Liga MX of Mexico and MLS of United States goes long back. These two nations have always tried to make football better by joining forces.
So, let’s introspect and uncover this North-American football relationship from the very beginning!
The first attempt was made in 2007 when both the leagues decided to collaborate and create the Superliga. This tournament was an eight-team tournament where 4 teams from America and 4 teams from Mexico took part.
An invitation format was put in place for its first season, to select the 8 teams. From 2008 onwards the top 4 teams from both the leagues were selected.
Unfortunately, the tournament only lasted till 2010. This 4-year partnership was only the start of collaborations between the two leagues.
The next venture came in 2018 when the two leagues announced to play a one-off match between the previous year’s MLS Cup and Campeón de Campeones winners. Basically, the two teams who win the league, play this one-off match to decide the ultimate winner.
This cup was named the Campeones Cup and is active to this day.
The Leagues Cup:
Both the leagues wanted to do something big and not just play a one-off match. So, they decided to announce an eight-team bi-national tournament called the Leagues Cup.
The inaugural edition of the Leagues Cup featured eight teams—four invitees from Major League Soccer and four Liga MX clubs chosen based on competitive results. Future editions were planned to use league results to determine the participating teams from MLS as well.
The format of the tournament was a simple knockout. The 8 teams will play from the quarterfinals to decide the eventual winner.
Two years later, after the COVID pandemic was over, the second edition of the Leagues Cup took place in 2021. The tournament with initial plans of expanding to 16 teams, went back on its word and returned to its 8-team format from the first edition.
The 2022 Leagues Cup is still in progress.
The expanded Leagues Cup (2023):
The plan of expansion of the Leagues Cup takes place from 2023. The idea is to include all the 47 teams from Liga MX and MLS in a month-long FIFA-type tournament.
Instead of playing an 8 team or 16 team tournament, both the leagues are planning to think big with this all-inclusive expansion. Both the leagues would have to take a month-long break amidst their leagues to make this ambitious project come true.
The tournament is also significant in terms of the CONCACAF Champions League qualification scenario.
(The CONCACAF Champions League is exactly like the Champions League but for clubs from South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.)
The winners of the Leagues Cup starting from 2023 will directly qualify for the round of 16 of the CONCACAF Champions League.
The runners-up and third-place finishers will qualify for the opening round of the CCL.
The club that wins the CONCACAF Champions League qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup. So, there is a structured way in which this tournament will become the gateway to even bigger tournaments.
That very well sums up how the two neighboring countries have interacted in the past, present, and will do, in the future.
Mexico and USA, co-creating to make football the real winner in North America!