Latest News

Leagues Cup 2: It’s the Second One


Leagues Cup is back for year two, and if the first iteration of this tournament was any indication, it’s going to be muy emocionante. That’s “very exciting” for all you English speakers, and while I’m no bilingual man myself, I did run this by someone who is, so I’m pretty sure I’m not inviting you to visit the sandwich or something like that. By the end of this tournament, we’re all going to be un poco mejor hablando el Español. Bueno? Vamos.

Minnesota United made it to the quarter-finals last year thanks to Bongokuhle Hlongwane’s incredible goal-scoring run, as our favorite South African winger finished second in scoring (7) behind just Lionel Messi (10). Inter Miami took the first title in this interleague affair, and MLS teams generally dominated, with Philadelphia and Nashville earning second and third, respectively. Now, playing every single game on the road for a month may have hindered LIGA MX’s finest, but they’re our rivals in this case, so I’m not going to make any excuses for them. They’ll just have to try again!

Before the action starts up again this year, I wanted to go through the finer details of the competition, introduce you all to our group, and point out a few of the other groups that might be worth watching. By this point of the summer, you’re probably already an expert at watching tournament soccer, but if not, follow my tips and you’ll be spreading your wings in no time.

Formato de Torneo (Tournament Format)

We’ve only had one edition of this tournament, so you’d be forgiven for having forgotten the format over the last year. That’s what I’m here for—to refresh the details so you can focus on enjoying the soccer!

Every team from MLS and LIGA MX automatically qualifies for Leagues Cup, meaning that 47 teams are fighting for the trophy. The champions from both leagues get byes to bypass the group stage, meaning that Club América and the Columbus Crew will be awaiting the rest of the field in the knockout stage.

The rest of the participating squads have been split up into 15 groups of three, from which the top two teams advance to the Round of 32 following a round-robin group stage. Unlike most tournaments, group stage draws will include a penalty shootout with an additional point up for grabs, which helps to separate such small groups.

If you get through, it’s single-elimination the rest of the way. Every match will be hosted in the USA, though MLS teams will be the visiting team regardless of the stadium if their LIGA MX opponent finished with a better league standing in 2023. Likewise, the host of each MLS vs. MLS matchup will be determined by last year’s league finish. This year’s tournament will run from July 26 to August 25, and the top three teams will earn a spot in next season’s Concacaf Champions Cup.

Encantado de Conocerte (Nice to Meet You)

In my opinion, the best part of Leagues Cup is interacting with new clubs, their fanbases, and their histories. LIGA MX is filled with historic clubs with, in many cases, a century’s worth of stories and passion. We’ll inevitably see some familiar faces as well when we come up against fellow MLS teams, but even those matches have an extra air of excitement in this do-or-die tournament setting.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. We won’t get to make too many new friends unless we get out of the group, and that’s no easy task. I put together a couple of brief intros for the rest of Group F, so let’s familiarize ourselves:

Seattle Sounders

Ah yes, Seattle. Or, as we say in Spanish…Seattle. We know these guys, right? I’d rather not reintroduce them, but I guess I’ve made my bed already; time to lie in it.

The Sounders have been around in various capacities since 1974, when they participated in the North American Soccer League (NASL) until the club folded in 1983. But their death turned out to be greatly exaggerated, as the Sounders returned to the pitch in 1994 to compete in what eventually became the United Soccer League (USL) until 2008. While little connected the two iterations beyond their name, that connection was enough to evoke the sense of soccer nostalgia that the Seattle faithful carried in their hearts, and the club took off.

In 2009, the Sounders joined MLS as an expansion team, and they’ve never looked back. Since joining the league, they’ve dominated the Western Conference, earning four conference titles, four U.S. Open Cups, one Supporters’ Shield, and two MLS Cups. They won the Concacaf Champions League (now the Concacaf Champions Cup) in 2022, earning the right to become the first MLS team to compete at the club world cup. Not too shabby.

A history of big names like Clint Dempsey, Sigi Schmid, Obafemi Martins, and Ozzie Alonso have made this one of the league’s most recognizable clubs, and as much as it pains me to say it, they’ve raised the level of American soccer quite substantially across their 50 years of history.


Nuevos amigos! This is what I’m excited for: the new friends. Club Necaxa has a long, rich history that has led them to the city of Aguascalientes, located in the state of the same name. Since 1923, Los Electricistas (the Electricians) have experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Their story is filled with the kind of struggles, resilience, and triumphs that build a club worth loving.

They began their journey in the state of Puebla, when Scotsman William H. Fraser brought the soccer teams of the Light and Power Company and the Street Car Operators together into a single team. He funded them with company revenue, enjoyed early success, and generally dominated regional soccer in the 1930s.

A brief hiatus in the 1940s marked the first of the club’s struggles, but to date, they’ve risen from every setback. They’ve relocated, rebranded, and changed ownership a number of times, as any team that’s been around for 100 years is liable to do. But throughout every challenge, they found periods of success.

Today, Club Necaxa’s trophy cabinet holds three LIGA MX titles, eight Copa MX triumphs, and two CCC victories, among other successes. They’ve won nearly every trophy they possibly could, and though their dominance has come in distinct waves, their longevity and resilience make them a threat in any match they play.

Grupos que Ver (Groups to Watch)

15 groups is SO many. There’s no way you can watch every game unless you’re able to time travel. If so, please share your secret with me; I’ve got a few games I wish I could go back and watch live a few more times. Barring scientific advancement between now and the end of the month, you’re going to have to make some business decisions: which groups should I watch, and why?

I have thoughts.

Obviously, Group F is the best: watch every game. Beyond that, I recommend the following three groups, for reasons I shall eloquently explain:

  • Group B: Chivas de Guadalajara, LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes
  • Group J: NYRB, CF Pachuca, Toronto FC
  • Group N: Inter Miami CF, Club Puebla, Tigres UANL

Group B features a Cali Clasico and a matchup between heavy-hitters Chivas and LA. What more could you ask for in a three-team group? Group J has the reigning CCC champions going up against Federico Bernardeschi and an extremely solid NYRB side: sign me up. Lastly, I can’t escape the Miami vortex that we’ve all fallen into. They’re always worth a watch, and with the likes of Tigres waiting for them, it should be even more exciting than usual. Oh yeah, Puebla in Group N as well. Cool.

You’ve still got about two-and-a-half weeks until Leagues Cup kicks off, so just enjoy MLS, Euros, and Copa América matches while you wait. The summer of soccer only comes around once a year, and you can’t afford to waste it by looking too far ahead! I’ll keep this guide up on the website for you; come back when you’re ready to switch gears.