When the Leagues Cup gets underway with quarterfinal play July 23 and July 24 between MLS and Liga MX clubs, two ball stands behind each goal will be introduced to help increase overall speed of play.
Each venue will be required to have four ball stands in total, with two positioned on either side of each goal. The stands will be located behind the LED/AdTrac boards and mounted between one and three yards of their respective goal past. This is the first time ball stands will be used in professional soccer in the Western Hemisphere.
To help maintain the ball stands, Leagues Cup games will feature 10 ball kids in total, with one responsible for each ball stand. The other eight will be equidistantly stationed around the field like in every MLS match.
Aside from the ball stands, Leagues Cup games will operate under the Laws of the Game as approved by the International Football Association Board (“IFAB”) and published by FIFA. The competition will use Video Review according to the VAR Protocol established by FIFA and IFAB. Procedures will be consistent with the current MLS and Liga MX protocols.
Of note, games will go straight to penalty kicks if they’re tied at the end of regulation. Further, each round is single elimination, with four participating teams picked by their respective leagues for the 2019 edition. For future editions, MLS and Liga MX will mutually agree upon the number of participating clubs and determine qualification criteria.
The Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake are the inaugural MLS representatives, while Liga MX has Club America, Cruz Azul, Tigres UANL and Club Tijuana. The semifinals are set for Aug. 20, with the championship match pencilled in for Sept. 18 at a to-be-announced U.S. venue.