NEW YORK; MEXICO CITY; HERRIMAN, Utah (Thursday, October 6, 2022) – Major League Soccer (MLS) and LIGA MX, with the support of CONCACAF, unveil important competition details, including dates, format and hosting process for the inaugural edition of the historic and highly-anticipated Leagues Cup 2023, which will occur from July 21-August 19 next Summer, in the midst of Real Salt Lake’s 19th campaign.
In a monumental new chapter for North American soccer, beginning in 2023, MLS and LIGA MX will pause their respective league seasons each Summer and all 47 first division clubs in Canada, Mexico and the United States – including Utah-based Real Salt Lake – will compete in the World Cup-style tournament.
Today’s announcement sets the stage for the annual, month-long competition that will crown the winner among MLS and LIGA MX. The champion, as well as the second- and third-place finishers, will qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League and an opportunity to earn a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The 2023 Leagues Cup will begin on Friday, July 21 with the final taking place on Saturday, August 19. The tournament will be played across the U.S. and Canada. An event unprecedented in global football, the inaugural Leagues Cup will consist of 77 matches. To watch the Leagues Cup explainer video. CLICK HERE
Last month, Real Salt Lake welcomed reigning LIGA MX Champion Atlas FC to Utah in the Leagues Cup “Showcase” as the 42nd match against 30 different international opponents from 16 various countries for the Claret-and-Cobalt since 2005. Atlas FC – which overcame an early and spectacular 78-yard laser from homegrown DF Aaron Herrera for RSL – was the ninth Mexican opponent to visit Utah and appear opposite RSL, which has also competed against Monarcas Morelia, Santos Laguna, Cruz Azul, Club America, CD Guadalajara, Monterrey, Xolos de Tijuana and UANL Tigres a combined 17 times across international friendly or CONCACAF Champions League play, as well as the Leagues Cup 2019. All-time, RSL is now just 3-7-4 (W-L-T) against Mexican visitors, while the Utah side owns an all-time 18-13-11 overall international record. Both records include RSL’s home 1-0 loss to Tigres in 2019, as well as last month’s 1-2 loss to Atlas.
GROUP STAGE, SEEDING AND HOSTING: For Leagues Cup, one club each from MLS and LIGA MX will receive a bye past the Group Stage and enter the tournament in the Round of 32. MLS will be represented by the 2022 MLS Cup winner. For LIGA MX, of the two recent champions in Clausura 2022 and Apertura 2022, the club with the most combined points accumulated across both tournaments in the 2022 calendar year will qualify directly into the Round of 32. The remaining 45 clubs will be divided into 15 groups of three clubs each. The 15 groups will be divided into four regions.
The Group Stage placement for MLS teams will be based on the final 2022 Supporters’ Shield standings. The top 15 MLS Clubs will each be placed in groups based on seeding, as well as by region, and will host two matches each. Real Salt Lake enters Sunday’s critical “Decision Day” home tilt against Portland Timbers 16th overall in the current Shield table; the “win and you’re in” scenario that would clinch RSL a 2022 Audi MLS Cup Playoff spot would also benefit the Utah side’s group hosting prospects for 2023 Leagues Cup.
The top 15 LIGA MX clubs – based on the combined Clausura 2022 and Apertura 2022 standings – will be placed into groups in reverse order from the MLS clubs (No. 15 LIGA MX seeded club will be paired with No. 1 MLS seeded club and so on).There will be at least one LIGA MX club per group.
The remaining 13 MLS clubs together with the 2 remaining LIGA MX clubs, will be drawn into groups and divided geographically. The 13 MLS clubs will each host one Group Stage match each; should RSL draw or lose at home Sunday against Portland, the Utah side would fall into this scenario. LIGA MX v. LIGA MX matches will be played at select venues depending on region. The 2023 Leagues Cupschedule and details will be announced in the coming months.
Every one of the 47 teams will play two matches in the Group Stage, with the top two teams from each group, as determined by points, advancing to the Knockout Stage Round of 32. For tiebreakers and other competition items, the Leagues Cup Competition Guidelines will be published in the coming months.
No matches in the Leagues Cup Group Stage will end in a tie. Each team receives one point if the game is tied after 90 minutes. The winner of the subsequent penalty kicks will earn an additional point. Regulation wins count as three points.
KNOCKOUT ROUNDS: Following the Group Stage, the advancing teams will be joined by the top MLS and LIGA MX clubs and will be placed in a fixed bracket to compete in the single-game elimination Knockout Rounds beginning with the Round of 32 (16 matches), followed by Round of 16 (eight matches). The eight advancing teams will compete in the Quarterfinals (four matches) before the two Semifinal matches.
LEAGUES CUP FINAL AND THIRD-PLACE GAME: The Leagues Cup Final and Third-Place game, which will determine the qualifiers in CONCACAF Champions League, will be played on Saturday, August 19.
CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION
As previously announced by CONCACAF, the Leagues Cup winner will qualify directly for CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16, and the second and third place Clubs will qualify for the Champions League Round One. Leagues Cup is the first official competition in the world to involve two leagues and be sanctioned by their Confederation.
As part of the multiyear partnership between MLS and Apple, fans around the world will be able to watch the entire Leagues Cup tournament on the Apple TV app, which is available on Apple devices, smart TVs, streaming devices from Roku, Amazon, and Google, game consoles, and the web at tv.apple.com. Additional broadcast information in Canada, Mexico and U.S. will be announced at a later date. As previously announced, IMG Arena will be the data distribution partner for Leagues Cup.
Real Salt Lake season ticket members could possibly see Leagues Cup 2023 tickets included in their annual package, or at the very least will have first rights to their seats during an exclusive pre-sale period; please contact the Club’s Fan Relations representatives for more information or visit www.RSL.com/tickets. Tickets will be available to the general public in the coming months.
Leagues Cup 2023 is part of the evolution of the successful partnership between MLS and LIGA MX that launched in 2018. The partnership is rooted in on-field rivalry but connected by a true spirit of collaboration off the field, with a focus on sharing best practices, growing the beautiful game in North America, and being a force for positive change in the communities of both leagues.
Click HERE for Leagues Cup assets.
ABOUT MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer — celebrating its 27th season in 2022 — features 29 clubs throughout the United States and Canada, including 2022 expansion team Charlotte FC and St. Louis CITY SC, which debuts in 2023. Starting in 2023, the Apple TV app will be the exclusive destination to watch every single live MLS match. For more information about MLS, visit www.MLSsoccer.com.
About LIGA MX
LIGA MX is Mexican soccer’s first division, comprised of 18 clubs throughout the country and headquartered in a sporting complex in Toluca, Mexico. Visit www.LigaMX.net for more information.
ABOUT REAL SALT LAKE
During the first week of January 2022, the RSL compendium of properties was acquired by global sports entrepreneur David Blitzer – who boasts interests in the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), the New Jersey Devils (NHL), the Cleveland Guardians (baseball) and six European soccer entities, including Crystal Palace (England), FC Augsburg (Germany), Estoril (Portugal), ADO Den Haag (Netherlands), Alcorcón (Spain) and SK Beveren (Belgium). The Blitzer group partners with Utah-based Smith Entertainment Group (SEG), which owns the Utah Jazz (NBA), led by Ryan Smith and including Dwayne Wade, among others.
Real Salt Lake completes its 18th Major League Soccer regular season this Sunday, its first full season under Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni, who led the Utah side for the final 100 days last year, advancing RSL to the 2021 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the 11th time in the last 14 years.
The Club’s MLS Cup 2009 victory marked the state of Utah’s only major professional championship in nearly 40 years, the title preceding an historic run to the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League Final. Buoyed by a passionate base boasting several thousand season ticket holders, RSL has enjoyed a prominent RioT-field advantage – posting a dominant 154-48-50 (Win-Loss-Draw) record across all competitions on Utah soil (1.97 points per game for a 0.702 win pct.) – since building its permanent Rio Tinto Stadium home in Sandy nearly 14 years ago.
In 2015, the club expanded its development pyramid with the addition of Real Monarchs SLC, one of several MLS-operated clubs playing in the USL Championship, the United States’ Division II setup. The Monarchs boast a pair of titles in its brief history, as the 2017 USL regular-season champions, later winning the USL Final in 2019. For the 2022 season and beyond, Real Monarchs will compete in the newly launched “MLS NEXT Pro” as part of a joint United States and Canada endeavor to complete the professional player pathway by connecting youth academies in MLS NEXT to first teams in Major League Soccer.
The entire RSL pyramid, which includes the RSL Academy’s U-15 and U-17 teams, calls the expansive Zions Bank Training Center in Herriman, Utah their daily training home. With five world-class grass fields, two indoor turf fields, a residential dormitory, the STEM-based RSL Academy High School and the 5,000-seat Zions Bank Stadium located on a 42-acre campus, Utah’s sporting future is bright.
The RSL Community Foundation was established in 2016, created with the goals of being active in the community year-round, utilizing the popularity and reach of RSL and the Monarchs in promoting health and wellness in children throughout the region, engaging supporters of soccer to raise funds and volunteer time for various local initiatives.
2023 RSL Full-Season Ticket Packages & Oct. 9 “Decision Day” Tickets are NOW ON SALE at _www.RSL.com__ or by calling 844.Real.Tix._