The championship game of a newly created tournament between Major League Soccer and Liga MX teams is likely coming to Las Vegas.
The two leagues will make a “major announcement related to Leagues Cup” on Thursday and the location of the Sept. 18 final has yet to be disclosed. Sam Boyd Stadium, which has hosted Liga MX exhibition games in the past, stands out as a possible venue.
MLS did not provide any additional details on the announcement when reached for comment.
The Leagues Cup begins July 23 with the Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake from MLS competing against Club America, Cruz Azul, Tigres UANL and Club Tijuana from Liga MX. All games will be shown on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Plus or Univision in the U.S.
The Liga MX clubs were selected based on results in recent competitions while the MLS teams were simply invited, though all eight teams have won their league in the past. Future editions of the tournament will have more defined criteria for entry and may feature more teams.
“We are excited to take our partnership with Liga MX to the next level with Leagues Cup,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a May statement. “We have an intense rivalry between our national teams, and Leagues Cup provides a terrific opportunity to increase the growing rivalry between MLS and Liga MX clubs.”
The event is part of a strategic partnership the two leagues entered into in 2018 to help grow their standing in world soccer. In addition to the Leagues Cup, they recently created the Campeones Cup, an annual match between the winner of each league.
The first Campeones Cup took place Sept. 19, 2018, with Tigres defeating Toronto FC 3-1.
“The rivalry between Liga MX and MLS clubs as well as the sporting level of both competitions grows constantly,” Liga MX Executive President Enrique Bonilla said in a May statement. “We are aware that there are a great number of fans around the region who follow the leagues and we believe that Leagues Cup will allow us to bring Liga MX and that great fanbase closer together.”
The Leagues Cup starts with the four MLS teams hosting a Liga MX side at their home stadium on July 23-24. If two MLS or two Liga MX teams meet in the Aug. 20 semifinals, the games will be held in Houston or Los Angeles. If an MLS and Liga MX team meet in the semifinals, the MLS team will host.
After that comes the likely final in Las Vegas, which has competing proposals for an expansion MLS team. Las Vegas officials are currently in a 180-day negotiating window to build a new stadium downtown with project manager The Renaissance Companies Inc., backed by billionaire Seth Klarman. Golden Knights owner Bill Foley has also talked to MLS about a team that would play in Las Vegas Stadium, future home of the Raiders, or elsewhere.
MLS intends to expand to 30 teams in the near future. Twenty-seven teams are spoken for and St. Louis and Sacramento have the first crack at teams 28 and 29, leaving Las Vegas to compete with Charlotte, Detroit and Phoenix for the final spot.
“Major League Soccer appreciates the recent interest in securing a future MLS expansion club for Las Vegas,” MLS said in a statement June 6. “We look forward to speaking with interested ownership groups, Mayor (Carolyn) Goodman and Las Vegas business leaders in the coming months to further understand the potential for Las Vegas as home for an MLS expansion team in the future.”
Leagues Cup schedule
* Chicago Fire vs. Cruz Azul, July 23 (ESPN Plus)
* LA Galaxy vs. Club Tijuana, July 23 (ESPN)
* Houston Dynamo vs. Club America, July 24 (ESPN Plus)
* Real Salt Lake vs. Tigres UANL, July 24 (ESPN Plus)
* TBD vs. TBD, Aug. 20 (ESPN2)
* TBD vs. TBD, Aug. 20 (ESPN2)
* TBD vs. TBD, Sept. 18 (ESPN2)