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What is Leagues Cup? Format, key dates, and how to watch live

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Major League Soccer and Liga MX have announced the dates, format, and hosting details for the first edition of the newly expanded Leagues Cup tournament.

Beginning in 2023, the revamped tournament will feature every single top-flight club from across the two leagues and should be hotly contested.

Read on for everything you need to know about the 2023 Leagues Cup:

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The 2023 Leagues Cup will take place between July 21 and August 19, with both MLS and Liga MX pausing their domestic campaigns to compete. No regular-season matches in either league will be played while the competition runs.

The Leagues Cup is officially recognized by Concacaf as a major competition.

Every team from MLS and Liga MX will take place in a World Cup-style tournament featuring a group stage followed by knockout rounds, starting with the round of 32.

All teams entering into the group stage will play at least two matches, with the top two teams from each group progressing.

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However, the 2022 MLS Cup champion will enter directly into the knockout rounds. Of the two LIGA MX 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 also skip the group stage.

The groups will be split into four regions: East, West, South, and Central. There will be no ties during this phase of the competition, with all drawn games decided by a penalty shootout. Each team will receive one point if the game is level after 90 minutes, with the shootout winner then taking an extra point.

The teams who finished 2nd-16th in the MLS Supporters’ Shield race will be seeded first in each group, while Liga MX teams from 2nd-16th based on total points from Clausura 2022 and Apertura 2022 will take the second spot. The final 13 MLS and two LIGA MX clubs will be drawn into groups and divided geographically.

Following the group stage, knockout rounds will be played starting with the last 32 and ending with the final on August 19. There will also be a third-place match.

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Every single match from the 2023 Leagues Cup will be shown live as part of Major League Soccer’s new 10-year partnership with Apple TV. Additional broadcast information will be announced at a later date.

The winner of the 2023 Leagues Cup will earn direct entry to the Concacaf Champions League round-of-16 stage, while the runner-up and third-place team will also qualify for the tournament’s earlier round.

There is also a ‘substantial’ yet unspecificed cash prize fund up for grabs.

All 77 Leagues Cup matches in 2023 will be hosted exclusively at MLS stadiums across both the United States and Canada.

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Matches featuring two Liga MX teams will also be hosted at MLS stadiums, which will be assigned depending on geographical region.

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 47participating 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.” 

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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 competition’s 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.”

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.

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Lionel Messi reacts to Argentina reaching World Cup knockouts

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Argentina superstar Lionel Messi has claimed that his missed penalty in Wednesday night’s crunch World Cup win over Poland ended up galvanising the team and was on course for victory as soon as Alexis Mac Allister broke the deadlock.

La Albiceleste, one of the pre-tournament favourites, were in danger of a shock group stage elimination ahead of kick-off and had it all to play for against Robert Lewandowski’s Poland.

When Lionel Scaloni’s team were awarded a first half penalty and Messi stepped up, it looked as though it would be business as usual. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was looking to score in a seventh consecutive Argentina appearance, something he had never done before. But Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was equal to his spot-kick and confidently palmed the ball away.

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“Having missed the penalty, the team came out stronger from that,” Messi told TyC Sports.

“The team was convinced that we were going to win, it was a matter of the first one coming in. Once we scored the goal, the game was going to be played the way we wanted.”

After Mac Allister found the key first goal, Julian Alvarez eventually got the second.

Neither Alvarez nor Enzo Fernandez, who assisted the second goal, had started either of the first two games. Yet they came in to make a critical impact. Mac Allister, meanwhile, hadn’t featured in the opening defeat to Saudi Arabia, before starting back-to-back wins.

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Messi went on to praise the ‘strength of this group’ which makes that possible.

“We said it from the beginning. The players who come in know what they have to do and are always fully prepared. It is the strength of this group, the union and that when a player has to, he responds,” the 35-year-old explained.

With the group stage now over, Argentina will face a plucky Australia side that qualified from a very challenging Group D ahead of Denmark. That game will be played on Saturday.

“We know it’s going to be very tough,” Messi assessed.

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Harry Symeou hosts Jack Gallagher and Toby Cudworth to look back on Germany ’06 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click to download or listen to the episode in full!



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Minnesota United make Joseph Rosales loan permanent

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Minnesota United have announced the permanent signing of midfielder Joseph Rosales from Panama’s CA Independiente.

Rosales returns to Allianz Field following a loan spell starting in August 2021, with the Honduras international notching five primary assists in 35 appearances so far across all competitions.

MNUFC have signed Rosales on a deal through the 2023 MLS season with further options on 2024 and 2025.

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Rosales returns to a Minnesota United side enjoying a four-year in the MLS Cup Playoffs under Adrian Heath, though the Loons have exited in the first round three times.

The 22-year-old will continue to compete for a starting spot in the MNUFC midfield alongside the likes of Kervin Arriaga and Wil Trapp.

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.



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Atlanta United sign former Columbus Crew forward Derrick Etienne Jr via free agency

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Atlanta United have bolstered their attacking options with the signing of winger Derrick Etienne Jr via free agency, the club announced Wednesday.

As reported by 90min, the Five Stripes have been pursuing a deal with Etienne since mid-November, with the forward having already spent time at the club’s training facilities.

That deal was finally completed on Wednesday as Etienne was unveiled on a contract through the 2025 MLS season with further options on 2026 and 2027.

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“Derrick is a versatile winger who fits the profile of a player we were looking to bring in,” Atlanta United vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a club press release.

“We’re excited to secure his services as he was a top free agent coming off an excellent season and heading into the prime of his career. Derrick has a great mentality, knows the league well and we are looking forward to him being a big part of the team going forward.”

Etienne is entering his eighth season as an MLS player, notching 17 goals and 17 assists in 148 appearances so far for the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew so far.

His spell with the latter was particularly fruitful, winning MLS Cup and Campeones Cup titles, while the 26-year-old enjoyed a career-best return of nine goals and six assists in 33 regular season appearances in 2022.

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Etienne – who is also capable of playing through the middle – will now compete for places in Atlanta United’s forward line alongside the likes of Luiz Araujo and Edwin Mosquera as the club look to return to the MLS Cup Playoffs in head coach Gonzalo Pineda’s second full season in charge.

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.



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