Leagues Cup Puts North America’s Finest on Display This Week
The second edition of Leagues Cup begins tonight, kicking off five weeks of MLS vs LIGA MX action in August and September, with this year’s competition between North America’s top soccer leagues set to feature four clubs from MLS and four from LIGA MX in a seven-match, single-elimination tournament that will culminate with an epic rivalry final that focuses all eyes on Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sept. 22.
The 2021 edition gets underway with quarterfinal matches Aug. 10-12, beginning with a Tuesday night doubleheader that spotlights MLS’ Western Conference-leader Sporting Kansas City facing Club León at Children’s Mercy Park (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2, TUDN).The action continues when MLS’ leading scorer Raúl Ruidíaz and Seattle Sounders FC host Tigres UANL at Lumen Field (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2, TUDN, TSN).
New York City FC will face Pumas UNAM on Wednesday, Aug. 11 (August 11, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TUDN, TSN), and the quarterfinals wrap when Orlando City SC take on Santos Laguna on Thursday, Aug. 12 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TUDN, TSN).
Further enriching interleague rivalry that provides more meaningful competitive opportunities between MLS and LIGA MX, Leagues Cup this year will feature a player on each MLS side who previously played for a LIGA MX team in Orlando’s Pedro Gallese (Veracruz), Sounders FC’ Ruidíaz (Morelia), Kansas City’s Alan Pulido (Tigres, Chivas), and NYCFC’s Maxi Moralez (León).
Below is a schedule of the exciting Leagues Cup quarterfinal matchups slated for this week. Following quarterfinals, the semifinals will be played during the week of September 13.
Additional Leagues Cup information can be found here.
Leagues Cup Quarterfinals Schedule
Tuesday, Aug. 10
· Sporting Kansas City vs. Club León (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2 / TUDN / TSN)
· Seattle Sounders vs. Tigres (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2 / TUDN / TSN)
Wednesday, Aug. 11
· NYCFC vs. Pumas (August 11, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TUDN, TSN)
Thursday, Aug. 12
· Orlando City vs. Santos Laguna (August 12, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TUDN, TSN)
Chicago Fire FC Gets a Glimpse of Its Goalkeeping Future
With veteran goalkeepers Bobby Shuttleworth and Kenneth Kronholm out injured, the duo of Chicago Fire FC Homegrown goalkeeping teenagers Gabriel Slonina and Chris Brady got their big opportunities in the matchday squad last week, preserving a clean sheet against New York City FC on Aug. 4 in the process.
At 17 years and 81 days old, Slonina became the youngest goalkeeper to start an MLS game in league history, surpassing David Monsalve’s previous record at 18 years and 220 days old. Plus, with four saves during the match, Slonina also became the youngest to post a shutout in league play.
The Fire Academy product’s moment of the match came in the 56th minute when he dove in front of Valentín Castellanos to deny the Argentine an easy tap-in goal from a Thiago Andrade cross. His Homegrown Fire Academy counterpart Brady, at 17 years and 154 days old, served as the backup.
Chicago will be back in action on Saturday, Aug. 15, when Fire FC host the Columbus Crew at Soldier Field (6 p.m. ET, ESPN+).
Dax McCarty approaches Milestone 400th Career Appearance
During his much-revered MLS career that has earned him the prestige, hardware, and support of fans at every club for which he has played, 15-year MLS veteran midfielder Dax McCarty is expected to earn his 400th career regular season appearance, when Nashville SC faces one of his former club’s D.C. United on Sunday, Aug. 15 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+).
Joining the 400th-appearance club, puts McCarty in the esteemed company of five other iconic MLS players, including Nick Rimando (514), Kyle Beckerman (498), Jeff Larentowicz (437), Kevin Hartman (416), and Chad Marshall (409).
McCarty’s decade-and-a-half career has taken the Winter Park, Fla.-native and former North Carolina Tar Heel from the No. 6 overall 2006 MLS SuperDraft selection by FC Dallas to D.C. United, the New York Red Bulls, Chicago Fire and, finally, his current Nashville SC.
Heh earned 101 appearances with FC Dallas, tallying six goals and 14 assists as he guided the side to appearances in the 2007 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup 2010. After a brief stop in D.C., McCarty joined the New York Red Bulls where he made 198 appearances over three competitions with the club. Over his 5-1/2-year stay in New York, McCarty led the Red Bulls to two MLS Supporters’ Shields, awarded for the best regular season finish.
Following his two years in Chicago, McCarty was traded to expansion side Nashville SC. Since joining Nashville in November 2019, McCarty has made 41 appearances with the club which is fourth all-time in the team’s young history. This season, McCarty has played the second-most minutes on the team and leads the club in tackles.
Pushing to maintain playoff contention, Nashville SC will continue to rely on the veteran leadership of its inaugural captain to continue its strong showing this season, with McCarty aiming for more team and personal milestones along the way.
Atlanta United and LAFC Set to Write Next Chapter in Goal-Filled History
While the meetings between Atlanta United and the Los Angeles Football Club have been few and far between, their matchups have delivered in entertainment value with massive goal totals every time they come around.
Accounting for 12 goals in only two matches against each other, their first-ever meeting came in April 2018, with Atlanta romping the MLS newcomers 5-0 on goals by Julian Gressel, Josef Martínez, Miguel Almirón, and Romario Williams.
The last time these two sides met was in July 2019, when they played out to a seven-goal thriller at the Banc of California Stadium. Atlanta scored the first goal within two minutes, but a flurry of LAFC goals between the 33rd and 45th minutes of the game saw them take a 4-2 lead into half time that withstood Atlanta’s second half push to secure a 4-3 win.
Both sides come into this third all-time meeting with goal scorers in good form. Atlanta United midfielder Marcelo Moreno has scored in each of the club’s last three games, while the Midas man Martínez has scored in his last two appearances for the club. Meanwhile, LAFC have a trio of players in Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, and José Cifuentes who have scored or assisted 13 of their last 16 goals, dating back to May.
All signs point to another goal fest in Atlanta when the Five Stripes host LAFC on Sunday, Aug. 16 (4 p.m. ET, ESPN / ESPN Deportes).
Kacper Przybylko and The Union Continue MLS-LIGA MX rivalry in Champions League Semifinals
The tradition of MLS clubs advancing to the two-legged semifinals of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League continues this week, when the Philadelphia Union square off against LIGA MX giants Club América on Thursday night (10 p.m. ET / FS1 / Univision / TUDN).
Amplifying the intensity of the two sides as North American soccer ramps up for the MLS vs. Liga MX All-Star Game on August 25, the annual continental club competition is providing a continuation of the exciting U.S.A.-vs.-Mexico and MLS-vs.-Liga MX rivalries that have already taken place this year.
Philadelphia Union forward Kacper Przybylko is coming in hot, scoring five goals with one assist en route to the Union’s nine-goal tally to date in the tournament. The German forward has played over 1,400 minutes for Philadelphia this season and has a total of six goals and two assists in league play.
Following Thursday’s first match of the two-leg semifinals series, the action continues when the two sides meet again at Subaru Park on September 15, with a chance to become the continental victors set to represent the Concacaf region against Europe’s best in the FIFA Club World Cup.
Friday, August 13
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10:30 p.m. (TSN)
- The Quakes extended their undefeated streak to seven games with a second victory in that time, defeating Los Angeles Football Club 2-1 at PayPal Park on Sunday afternoon. Eduardo López scored for a second consecutive game, now with five for the season, while Nathan scored his second goal in his first seven MLS appearances.
- Whitecaps FC stretched their undefeated run to five games with a fourth consecutive draw, playing to a 1-1 result with the LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday afternoon. Ranko Veselinovic scored his first career goal in MLS, in his second season.
- The teams met three times a season ago. The Quakes won the first two: First, Shea Salinas scored the game-winner eight minutes into second-half stoppage time, giving the Quakes a wild 4-3 win during group play at the MLS is Back Tournament, then they got three second-half goals for a 3-0 win Oct. 7 in San Jose. The Whitecaps took a 2-1 win Oct. 24 at Providence Park in Portland.
- The win in the last meeting for Whitecaps FC ended a four-game winning streak for the Quakes in the series. The Quakes wins ended a five-game Whitecaps FC undefeated streak in the series in league and MLS Cup play in the first meeting, their first win vs. Vancouver since March 11, 2017.
Saturday, August 14
Minnesota United FC vs. LA Galaxy, 5:30 p.m. (FOX)
- MNUFC extended their undefeated streak to five games with a third win in that time, defeating Houston Dynamo FC 2-0 at Allianz Field on Saturday evening. Robin Lod scored his sixth goal of the season, a second consecutive game with a goal and his fourth goal in the last five games, and Brent Kallman scored his second goal of the season.
- The Galaxy following a pair of victories with a draw, reaching a 1-1 result with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday afternoon. Kévin Cabral scored his second MLS goal for the Galaxy tally.
- The teams last met during the 2019 season. Jonathan dos Santos and Chris Pontius netted goals five minutes apart in the first half and Sebastian Lletget added a late one as the Galaxy held out for a 3-2 win March 16 at Dignity Health Sports Park; the teams reached a goalless draw April 24 at Allianz Field.
- The Galaxy have never lost to Minnesota United FC, now in six meetings between the teams all-time, with four wins. The Galaxy also won a Round One meeting in the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2019, a 2-1 win in Saint Paul.
Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m. (TSN)
- Toronto FC gained a sixth result from the last seven games, coming back for a 2-2 draw with New York City FC at BMO Field on Saturday evening. Alejandro Pozuelo scored his first goal of the season for the leveler; Richie Laryea also added his second of the season, coming from Pozuelo’s third assist of the year.
- The Revolution stretched their undefeated streak to six games with a fifth win in that time, defeating the Philadelphia Union 2-1 at Gillette Stadium on Sunday evening. Gustavo Bou netted his 11th goal of the season for the game-winner, pulling into a tie for the MLS Golden Boot with Raúl Ruidíaz of Seattle Sounders FC.
- The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Yeferson Soteldo scored a goal and added an assist as TFC took a three-goal lead after just 24 minutes, holding out for a 3-2 win July 7 at Gillette Stadium.
- TFC is undefeated in the last five meetings between the clubs, over the last two seasons. The TFC wins in the last two meetings have been the first time the away team has won in the series since Sept. 13, 2015, when New England won 3-1 in Toronto. TFC has won the last four encounters in Toronto.
CF Montreal vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. (TVA Sports)
- CF Montréal fell to a 2-1 loss to D.C. United at Audi Field on Sunday evening. Zachary Brault-Guillard scored his second goal of the season, his second in three MLS campaigns.
- The Red Bulls went down to a 2-1 defeat by Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field on Sunday evening. Tom Barlow netted his first goal of the season for the Red Bulls.
- The teams met once a season ago. Tom Barlow scored a pair of goals as the Red Bulls took a 4-1 win Sept. 27 at Red Bull Arena.
- The Red Bulls win in the last meeting ended a three-game Montréal winning streak in the series. Montréal has won the past four league meetings at home, all by shutout; the Red Bulls have not scored in their last 398 minutes played in Québec. CFMTL has one win in 11 regular season meetings at Red Bull Arena, though they did win there in the 2016 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
New York City FC vs. Inter Miami CF, 8 p.m.
- NYCFC stretched their undefeated run to five games with a second consecutive draw, reaching a 2-2 result with Toronto FC at BMO Field on Saturday evening. Santiago Rodríguez scored his second goal of the season, then Ismael Tajouri-Shradi netted his seventh of the year – both coming from Valentin Castellanos assists.
- Inter Miami extended their unbeaten streak to four games with a second win in that time, defeating Nashville SC 2-1 at DRV PNK Stadium on Sunday evening. Gonzalo Higuaín scored his eighth goal of the season, tied for seventh in the MLS Golden Boot standings, then Indiana Vassilev netted his first career goal in MLS for the game-winner, assisted by Federico Higuaín.
- The teams met twice during Inter Miami’s inaugural season and NYCFC won both. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored the game’s only goal as NYCFC took the victory July 20 during the MLS is Back Tournament, then Alejandru Mitrita and Lewis Morgan each scored a pair of goals, but Anton Tinnerholm netted the decider in a 3-2 NYCFC win Oct. 3, as all five goals came in the opening 43 minutes.
FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m.
- FC Dallas extended their undefeated run to four games with a third win in that span, defeating Austin FC 2-0 at Toyota Stadium in the first-ever meeting of the Texas clubs. Ryan Hollingshead scored his second goal of the season and Jesús Ferreira hit for his second, both coming on assists by Szabolcs Schön.
- Sporting came away with a result for the seventh time in the last eight games, playing to a goalless draw with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday evening.
- The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Paxton Pomykal and Jesús Ferreira scored early in each half as FCD took a 2-1 win July 31 at Children’s Mercy Park, their third consecutive win in the series.
- FCD has come away with points from the last five meetings in Kansas City, winning four, the club’s first wins there since 2011. SKC had won five of the seven meetings in between, with two draws.
- FC Dallas have won the last two meetings at Toyota Stadium. Sporting last won in Frisco on Oct. 21, 2018, a 3-0 win, their first in Frisco since 2011; FC Dallas had a five-game home undefeated streak in the series put to an end.
Houston Dynamo FC vs. Colorado Rapids, 8:30 p.m.
- Dynamo FC went down to a second consecutive reversal, dropping a 2-0 decision to Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field on Saturday evening.
- The Rapids came away with a sixth result from their last seven games, playing to a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday evening.
- The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Michael Barrios set up a pair of goals as the Rapids scored three before the break on their way to a 3-1 win May 15 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
- The Rapids won the last visit to Houston, a 2-1 win on Decision Day (Nov. 8) last year, a second consecutive trip where they took points at BBVA Stadium. The Rapids win in the first meeting this year was their first at home in the series since 2017.
Real Salt Lake vs. Austin FC, 10 p.m.
- Real fell to a 3-2 loss to the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Saturday evening. Damir Kreilach scored his eighth goal of the season, now in a tie for seventh in the MLS Golden Boot standings, and Albert Rusnák scored his fourth of the year.
- Austin FC weren’t able to build upon a first victory in four games, falling to a 2-0 defeat by FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in the first meeting ever between the Texas clubs.
- The teams are meeting for the first time this season and in their histories. The teams are also scheduled to meet Oct. 2 at Q2 Stadium.
Sunday, August 15
Atlanta United vs. Los Angeles Football Club, 4 p.m. (ESPN; TSN)
- ATLUTD won for the first time since May 15, defeating the Columbus Crew 3-2 at Lower.com Field on Saturday evening. Ezequiel Barco scored a pair of goals in the opening 35 minutes to send Atlanta on their way, then Marcelino Moreno converted a penalty kick for the game-winner, his third consecutive game with a goal.
- LAFC suffered a second reverse in a row, dropping a 2-1 decision to the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park on Sunday afternoon.
- The teams have met twice all-time, and both have been goalfests. Miguel Almíron scored two goals and set up another as ATLUTD took a 5-0 win in the first meeting ever between the clubs, April 7, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Then the teams combined for six goals in an 18-plus minute burst as LAFC claimed a wild 4-3 win July 26, 2019 at Banc of California Stadium.
Chicago Fire FC vs. Columbus Crew SC, 6 p.m. (TSN)
- The Fire made it three games without loss, defeating the New York Red Bulls 2-1 at Soldier Field on Sunday evening. Luka Stojanovic scored two goals in the opening eight minutes of the game, his fourth and fifth of the season.
- The Crew fell to a 3-2 defeat by Atlanta United at Lower.com Field on Saturday evening. Jonathan Mensah and Pedro Santos each netted their second goals of the season.
- The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Gyasi Zardes nabbed both goals as the Crew took a 2-0 win June 19 in the final MLS league match at Historic Crew Stadium.
- The Fire are undefeated in their last seven home meetings with the Crew, with two wins and five draws, the Crew’s last win at the Fire coming in 2015. The teams reached a 2-2 draw there in the last meeting, Sept. 12 at Soldier Field. The Crew have a 11-game home undefeated streak alive in the all-time series. The Fire last won in Columbus on June 22, 2013.
Nashville SC vs. D.C. United, 7 p.m.
- Nashville SC saw their nine-game undefeated streak come to an end with a first loss since June 18, falling 2-1 to Inter Miami CF at DRK PNK Stadium on Sunday evening. CJ Sapong scored his sixth goal of the season, his third in the last four games.
- D.C. United extended their undefeated run to four games with a third victory in that time, defeating CF Montréal 2-1 at Audi Field on Sunday evening. Ola Kamara netted his 10th goal of the season for the game-winner, now in a three-way for third place in the MLS Golden Boot standings; Andy Najar scored his first goal for the club since Sept. 29, 2011.
- The teams met once in Nashville SC’s inaugural season. Daniel Rios scored the game’s only goal midway through the second half as Nashville SC took the win Sept. 23 at Nissan Stadium.
Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 8:30 p.m. (FS1; TSN)
- The Timbers put an end to a three-game winless skid, defeating Real Salt Lake 3-2 at Providence Park on Saturday evening. Dairon Asprilla scored his fourth goal of the season and added an assist, while Yimmi Chará netted his second of the season, with a goal and two assists over the last three games. Felipe Mora scored the game-winner, his fourth goal in the last five games.
- Sounders FC return to action after a weekend off from league play, reaching a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas at Lumen Field on Aug. 4. Fredy Montero scored his fourth of the season, his second in the last three games.
- The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Raúl Ruidíaz and Fredy Montero scored 16 minutes apart in the second half to give Sounders FC a 2-1 win May 9 at Providence Park.
- The visiting team has won seven of the last nine meetings in the league series, a string of six consecutive away team victories snapped in the final two meetings in 2020, a 1-0 Timbers win in Portland on Sept. 23 and a 1-1 draw at Lumen Field on Oct. 22.
- The Sounders have won four of the last five league matches in Portland, the win in 2018 their first win in Portland since 2014. When the Timbers took a 4-1 win on June 28, 2015, the three-goal victory equaled Portland’s largest margin of victory against the Sounders since 1977.
- The Timbers have come away with points from the last four matches in Seattle, winning three – their only wins ever in Seattle in MLS regular season games (Sounders FC were 7-0-3 leading up to the first win), though the Timbers won at home in the MLS Cup Playoffs meeting between the clubs.
- The teams met in 2018 in the MLS Cup Playoffs, the Timbers winning in a dramatic penalty shootout in the Western Conference Quarterfinals after ending 4-4 on aggregate. The Timbers won the first leg 2-1 at Providence Park, then Sounders FC won 3-2 in extra time, sending the tie to the decider. It was a second win in a playoff series for the Timbers, also winning the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals.
- The Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers have met 112 times in all competitions, the most between two U.S.-based clubs, the second-most in U.S./Canadian soccer history. Since their first meeting in 1975 in the old North American Soccer League, Seattle has won 55 times and Portland has won 42, with 15 draws. In MLS league play, Sounders FC have won 13 matches, the Timbers have won 10, and seven have been draws.