If you thought the epic summer of soccer was starting to wind down, think again. There's another midseason tournament coming your way.
In addition to the semifinals of the 2021 Concacaf Champions League, in which the Philadelphia Union remain the sole MLS contender, the 2021 edition of Leagues Cup will kick off on August 10.
The eight-team tournament, featuring four entrants from MLS and four from Liga MX, launched in 2019. The 2021 version will add to the growing partnership, and competition, between the two North American leagues. All-Star teams from each league, of course, will also meet in Los Angeles on Aug. 25 for the latest iteration of the midseason showcase.
Here's what you need to know to get started on your Leagues Cup journey.
What is it?
The Leagues Cup is a single-elimination tournament involving top clubs from both MLS and Liga MX. The inaugural edition in 2019 concluded with current Liga MX champions Cruz Azul defeating Tigres in the final.
After taking a pause last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition returns this year with four teams each from MLS and Liga MX facing off with the hopes of lifting the trophy in the final in Las Vegas on Sept. 22.
Which teams qualified?
Qualification for the 2021 Leagues Cup was based on performances during each league's regular season.
- Orlando City SC
- Sporting Kansas City
- Seattle Sounders FC
- Tigres UANL
- Pumas UNAM
- Club León
- Santos Laguna
The bracket features an MLS side against a Liga MX side in four pairings, with quarterfinal winners graduating to a semifinal, and then those winners facing off in the final. The MLS teams will host each of the quarterfinal matches.
Schedule and how to watch
The four quarterfinal matches will get underway on Aug. 10:
- Sporting KC vs. Leon | Tuesday, Aug. 10, 8 pm ET (ESPN, TUDN, TSN)
- Seattle Sounders vs. Tigres | Tuesday, Aug. 10, 10 pm ET (ESPN2, TUDN, TSN)
- NYCFC vs. Pumas | Wednesday, Aug. 11, 8 pm ET (ESPN+, TUDN, TSN)
- Orlando City vs. Santos | Thursday, Aug. 12, 7 pm ET (ESPN+, TUDN, TSN)
The semifinals will take place on Sept. 14 and 15, and the final is booked at Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium — site of the recent Gold Cup final — on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 10 pm ET (ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN, TSN, TVA Sports).
What’s at stake?
The eight teams will be battling for a chance to lift the imposing Leagues Cup trophy, which weighs in at 22 pounds and measures approximately 16.5 inches in height. The trophy features stars, maple leaves and pre-Hispanic motifs, symbols representing the United States, Canada and Mexico respectively. It was designed by both leagues and produced by Mexican artisans.
But perhaps even bigger than the trophy itself, the teams will be playing for bragging rights between MLS and Liga MX as the rivalry between the two top North American leagues continues to grow. Indeed, each MLS team taking part in the 2021 tournament will feature a player who previously competed for a Liga MX club.