NEW YORK; MEXICO CITY; HERRIMAN, Utah (Friday, January 20, 2023) – Major League Soccer (MLS) and LIGA MX, with the support of CONCACAF, today unveiled Group opponents for the highly-anticipated Leagues Cup 2023, which will occur from July 21 – August 19 next Summer, amidst Real Salt Lake’s 19th campaign. RSL will join both legendary Mexican side Monterrey FC and MLS power Seattle Sounders FC during the tourney as part of Group 2 in the West region of the World Cup-style tourney. Los Rayados could potentially visit Utah for the first time since April, 2011, when the storied club defeated RSL, 1-0, in that year’s CONCACAF Champions League Final. Long-time domestic RSL rival Seattle will soon become the first-ever MLS side to represent the League and U.S. Soccer in the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco.
“This year’s inaugural Leagues Cup tournament provides our Club the invaluable opportunity to compete against the best in North America,” said RSL General Manager Elliot Fall, now in his 17th season with the Club across various disciplines. “Continental competitions are always exciting, especially with three CONCACAF Champions League berths at stake. We have a deep and proud history of CCL moments that began a decade ago, and I know our fans harbor fond memories of intense, energetic and very meaningful games on Utah soil against regional powers. The Leagues Cup this Summer – especially with our history against Monterrey and Seattle – raises the level to surely unprecedented heights.”
While RSL could not host any matches during the 2022 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, the recent postseason qualification – the Claret-and-Cobalt’s fourth in the last five years, and its 12th in 15 seasons since 2008 – potentially clinched home matches at America First Field in Sandy against both Monterrey and Seattle for the 2023 Leagues Cup. Real Salt Lake Season Ticket Members will receive priority access to their seats for any possible Leagues Cup, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and other matches / events hosted at the Club’s primary venue.
Visit www.RSL.com for 2023 RSL Season Tickets and more information on the Club’s 2023 Major League Soccer campaign, as the Utah side looks to build upon last year’s 17 consecutive MLS sellouts and a NEW Club-high average attendance of 20,470, RSL’s new standard after 18 MLS seasons. In 2022, Real Salt Lake improved to 9-3-5 (W-L-T) in its 17 MLS matches on Utah soil this year, posting the League’s eighth-best home record, a slight improvement over the 9-4-4 mark in 2021. Each of the Club’s 17 America First Field matches this season exceeded the venue’s 20,000-seat capacity, a Club-record sellout streak both from the beginning of the season and at any point in one of its 18 Major League Soccer campaigns.
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.
Last Fall, competition details were unveiled 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 September, Real Salt Lake and the Utah Sports Commission 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 former 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 year’s 1-2 loss to Atlas.
Every team will play two matches in the Group Stage, with the top two teams from each group, as determined by points, advancing to the Leagues Cup Knockout Stage Round of 32. No matches in the Leagues Cup Group Stage will end in a tie. If a game is tied after 90 minutes, the game will proceed to a penalty shootout. For tiebreakers and other competition items, the Leagues Cup 2023 Competition Guidelines will be published in the coming months.
The Leagues Cup 2023 schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.
GROUP STAGE, SEEDING AND HOSTING: The 15 groups are now set for the inaugural edition of the highly-anticipated Leagues Cup2023, the official Concacaf competition where all 47 clubs – 18 from LIGA MX and 29 from MLS – will play in a World Cup-style tournament that will qualify three clubs for the 2024 Concacaf Champions League. The inaugural edition of Leagues Cup will take place July 21- August 19, 2023.
As the 2022 MLS Cup champion, Los Angeles Football Club qualified directly into the Round of 32 of Leagues Cup 2023. LIGA MX champion Club de Fútbol Pachuca earned the bye as the LIGA MX champion with the most combined points accumulated across the Clausura and Apertura seasons in the 2022 calendar year.
The Leagues Cup 2023 groups are based on clubs' 2022 performance along with their geographic regions. The 15 groups will be broken up into four regions: West, Central, South and East. Each region will have four groups, except the West, which will have three groupsdue to LAFC’s entrance in the Knockout Stage. Pachuca will enter the Knockout Stage in the South, opposite side of the bracket from the MLS Cup Champion and opposite quadrant from the top MLS seeded club based on the final 2022 Supporters’ Shield standings. Since LAFC won the 2022 Supporters' Shield, the club in the opposite quadrant will be the team that finished second – the Philadelphia Union, who will be in Group 1 in the East Region (East 1).
The top 15 MLS clubs – excluding the MLS Cup champion – have been placed in their corresponding geographic region first, and then based on their position in the final 2022 Supporters’ Shield standings. The top 15 LIGA MX teams, based on the combined Clausura 2022 and Apertura 2022 standings – excluding the LIGA MX champion as described above – have been paired in reverse order with the top 15 MLS clubs (No. 15 LIGA MX seeded club has been paired with No. 1 MLS seeded club and so on).
Continuing with the competitive balance criteria, the remaining 13 MLS clubs have been placed in the groups, again based first on their geographic region, and then based on their position in the final 2022 Supporters’ Shield standings.
With the MLS clubs placed into groups, the South and East regions have one remaining slot each. Based on the combined Clausura 2022 and Apertura 2022 standings, the last two remaining LIGA MX clubs, FC Juarez and Querétaro, have been placed in the open positions in these two regions to complete the groups. Placed in reverse order from the highest seed in each group, Querétaro (No. 17 LIGA MX) and FC Juarez (No. 16 LIGA MX) have been respectively paired with Philadelphia Union (No. 1 MLS) in the East and Austin FC (No. 3 MLS) in the South.
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.
Fans around the world will be able to watch Leagues Cup* on MLS Season Pass 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.
In addition, TelevisaUnivision, FOX Sports, TSN and RDS will be the linear broadcast home for select Leagues Cup matches. The Leagues Cup Final will be available on Univision in Spanish.
As previously announced, IMG Arena will be the data distribution partner for Leagues Cup. The complete details on the Leagues Cup format can be viewed here.
Real Salt Lake season ticket members could possibly see Leagues Cup 2023 ticket(s) 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 for potential home Leagues Cup contests 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.