MLS and Liga MX have announced 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.
Leagues Cup returns after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring 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.
Leagues Cup Teams
The following MLS clubs have qualified for Leagues Cup 2021:
The tournament, which is being played entirely in the US, will begin the week of August 9 with quarterfinals. 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.
Columbus Crews SC vs LIGA MX’s Campeón de Campeone
The leagues also confirmed the return of Campeones Cup, the annual clash of both leagues’ champions, which will feature reigning MLS Cup winners Columbus Crew SC. Currently scheduled for the week of September 27, Campeones Cup will be played at New Crew Stadium, which is set to debut later this year in Columbus.
“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,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a release. “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.”
The inaugural Leagues Cup was won by Liga MX side Cruz Azul in 2019. The Campeones Cup has produced two previous winners: Tigres UANL (Liga MX) in 2018 and Toronto FC (MLS) in 2019, an equal split between the leagues.
"The announcement regarding the return of Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup is crucial for the project to internationalize LIGA MX," Mikel Arriola, LIGA MX executive president, said in a release. "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.”