Major League Soccer and Liga MX have announced the format for next summer’s expanded Ligas Cup competition, which will see all teams from both leagues compete in a monthly World Cup-style tournament.
The league will announce on Thursday that all 47 teams will be included and will start on July 21 and end on August 19. All 77 matches of the tournament will be played in the United States and Canada.
The expansion of the tournament was first announced in September 2021 and will offer prize money for the winning clubs, including the first, second and third place teams in the CONCACAF Champions League.
“There has been nothing like the League Cup in major professional sports on this continent or anywhere else, and we believe the tournament will help raise CONCACAF’s profile around the world,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
In the World Cup format, 32 of the 47 teams will advance from the group stages to the knockout bracket.
There will be 15 groups of three teams in the group stage and the top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout stage. The two champions from the 2022 season will automatically be placed in the knockout stages. The 2022 MLS Cup champion will receive an automatic bid to the round of 32. Another automatic bid will go from LigaMX to the Clausura 2022 or Apertura 2022 championships. The champion with the most combined points in both tournaments in 2022 will receive an automatic bid.
Group stage placement for MLS teams will be based on the final standings of the 2022 Supporters’ Shield, with the best 15 set to host two matches. The top 15 Liga MX clubs from the combined Clausura and Apertura standings in 2022 will be drawn in reverse order with these MLS clubs. The No. 1 MLS team will have the No. 15 Liga MX team in its group, for example.
The remaining 13 MLS teams and the remaining two Liga MX teams will be drawn into groups and divided by geography.
“For Liga MX, this means spending a month with our large and growing fan base in the United States and creating new international opportunities, so that our clubs and players can bring their talent and excellence to the world. Show commitment,” said Liga MX CEO Michael Arreola.
There will also be no group stages of the tournament. Both teams will receive one point for a match tied after 90 minutes, but a penalty shootout will decide the winner and the winning club will receive an extra point in the group stage. A regulation win would be worth three points.
The full schedule will be announced in the coming months.