Leagues Cup Expansion and CCL Changes

Leagues Cup
Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Earlier today, CONCACAF, along with MLS and Liga MX, announced major changes to the Leagues Cup and CONCACAF Champions League (CCL). These changes will take place for the 2023-2024 calendar. Interestingly, changes will be made to CCL when CONCACAF just announced a new format in February of this year.

Leagues Cup

The announcement included the expansion of the Leagues Cup to include every club in MLS and Liga MX. MLS will have 30 franchises by then, and Liga MX has 18 clubs in its top league. The competition will be a month-long competition starting in Fall 2023. Therefore, this will cause both leagues to pause their respective seasons to complete. Jeff Carlisle, of ESPN, reported that the tournament will use a World Cup-style format. There will most likely be 16 groups of 3 followed by a knockout round. We will have to wait to know how many teams advance to the knockout round. The tournament champion, runner-up, and third-place team will qualify for the CCL in the Spring of 2024.

For those who don’t know, the Leagues Cup is a knockout competition between MLS and Liga MX. It started in 2019 with four teams from each league facing off in a one-leg knockout match. Every match is played in the MLS team’s home stadiums. Surprisingly, the first Leagues Cup final was played between two Mexican clubs in an MLS stadium.

The tournament was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, but it resumed this summer. Seattle Sounders will face Club Leon in the final tomorrow night at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas at 10:00 PM ET on ESPN2 and TUDN. Both leagues have been hinting at an expansion of the tournament since its inception in 2019. Most insiders expected the competition to expand to 16 teams and eight coming from each league.

CONCACAF Champion League (CCL)

Victor Montagliani, President of CONCACAF, announced changes to the CONCACAF Champions League. The timing is curious because they had just announced an expansion and new format in February. The newly-announced format included 50 teams from MLS, Liga MX, Canadian Premier League, Central America, and the Caribbean. Ergo, the plan was for a regional group stage to be played in the fall and then the knockout stages in the spring, similar to the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and newly formed Conference League. The new format will now include only 27 teams: 18 from North America, six from Central America, three from the Caribbean. All CCL matches will be played in the spring and a two-leg format until the final.

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