2023 Leagues Cup: Everything you need to know
With the release of the official schedule for the 2023 League Cup group stage, another event has arrived on the North American CONCACAF scene. Given that the competition has seen many different forms in its short existence and is now at its widest, it’s understandable that there is still some confusion about what to expect.
Originally conceived as an expanded version of the Super Bowl, common in most football confederations around the world, the tournament now covers all 49 clubs from Major League Soccer (29) and Liga MX (18). Group stage scheduled for will be held from 21 to 31 Julyfifteen groups of three teams will be featured to battle each other and make sure they don’t finish last to qualify for the Round of 16.
The draw for each group is carried out according to the 2022 table, and the teams ranked second to 16th are distributed among their peers. For example, the team that finished second in the 2022 Supporter’s Shield standings would be placed in a group with the team that finished 16th in last year’s Liga MX standings, third would play 15th, fourth would play 14th, and so on. There will be four groups each in the Central, Eastern and Southern regions, as well as three each in the West.
The last two Liga MX clubs and the last 13 MLS clubs will then be randomly assigned to 15 groups, ending that stage of the competition. As the reigning MLS Cup and Apertura champions, Los Angeles and Pachuca automatically qualified for the playoffs ahead of schedule.
As for the group stage games, there will be no draw – if everything is even after 90 minutes, penalty kicks will begin. A win by the rules is worth three points, but if penalties are required, the three points will be split, with two points going to the winner and one point to the loser.
Once the group stage dust has settled, each knockout game will continue until a winner is crowned. Not only is the trophy at stake, but the League Cup is another way for these clubs to qualify for CONCACAF’s main tournament, the Champions League. The third place winner of the repechage final and the two teams in the final will qualify for next year’s Champions League.
However, the advantage for the League Cup winner is a direct route to the Round of 16, which will certainly help with the early season congestion that many MLS teams suffer in the first few games. Each League Cup game will be streamed on the MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.