MLS: Positives and negatives of combined Liga MX competition

<> at BMO Field on September 19, 2018 in Toronto, Canada.
<> at BMO Field on September 19, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. /

Reports have surfaced regarding a possible competition between MLS and Liga MX clubs in 2019. What are the positives and negatives of bringing this to fruition?

The continued rivalry between Major League Soccer and Liga MX may reach new heights this year as a reported eight club competition may be on the horizon. This new competition appears to be another move by both leagues to bolster their appeal on the continent and add to the rivalry that has started.

This is one of the multiple competitions that both leagues have their eyes on in the coming years. Just last season, the Campeones Cup got underway as the MLS Cup winners Toronto FC played host to Liga MX Apertura winners Tigres.

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A possible all-star match between the stars of both leagues appears to be a done deal as well. With this latest competition being reported with a possible start date in the second half of the MLS season, what are the positives and negatives of adding this to the 2019 schedule?


First, the good news. This tournament will give us another opportunity to see where both leagues are at in comparison to one another. At the moment, the CONCACAF Champions League is the stand-alone competition for multiple MLS and Liga MX clubs to show what they’ve got against each other.

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It is worth noting that the CONCACAF Champions League has been won by Liga MX clubs since 2006. Furthermore, the semifinalists and runners-up spots have been dominated by MLS and Liga MX. As a result, this competition puts the standalone top two leagues in the region a chance to play each other in another tournament fashion.

Depending on the final format in terms of qualification and selection, this adds another incentive for MLS clubs to reach in their respective seasons. If it is the top four clubs at the end of the 2018 season or the two finalists from each respective conference from the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, then it may add an extra dimension to club’s goals. This could work vice versa for Liga MX depending on if they have their own selection process as well.


One of the main negatives that sticks out is there is no indication of how the teams that will be chosen will be selected. Right now, the Campeones Cup has a simple format of pitting two champions against each other. This tournament, from what was reported, doesn’t sound like it will use standings or how a club finished in the postseason as criteria.

The ESPN report stated:

"The tournament would involve four teams from MLS and four from Liga MX, sources confirmed to ESPN FC, while a Liga MX source told ESPN Mexico’s Rene Tovar that the competition doesn’t yet have a name and a format hasn’t been locked in, but will take place in the second half of 2019. The teams haven’t been confirmed internally, but MLS sides from the West Coast are expected to be well-represented, as well as a Mexican club close to the border, a source told ESPN FC."

When you hear west coast, two clubs come to mind which are the LA Galaxy and LAFC. The Galaxy have long been one of the poster clubs of MLS and it makes sense that the league would put them into the competition. Of course, this is just speculation but this tournament appears to be using geography and star power to dictate who will play.

As a result, this tournament may be enjoyable to watch but it won’t settle who is the better league in a given year or really a true indication of the progression of both leagues. The CCL will remain the supreme competition to decide the continent’s best club, as it should, for now.

One other aspect of the tournament that could be worrying is the dates it will take place. The second half of the season is what was mentioned as the possible dates for the competition. Both leagues will be competing come July and MLS will obviously be deeper into their schedule by then and entering a critical part of the campaign.

Clubs may be presented with the choice of resting or starting different units for these matches. If a key league fixture is on the horizon, then that will put a manager in a tough spot as he must decide between the two competitions. The four MLS clubs selected are made to sound like they will be high-profile clubs who will likely be right there in the playoff hunt. As we know in MLS, reaching the playoffs is not a given for any club, regardless of their star power.

Any injuries or fatigue incurred by this competition could really harm clubs in both leagues.

Good or bad?

Do the negatives outweigh the positives? Well, in this case, I think they do. We’d all love to see more Liga MX and MLS competitions, but this competition sounds like it will be ill-placed in the schedule and will not pit the absolute best four clubs from each league against each other. As previously mentioned, the CCL will remain the top competition in North America for determining who’s the best.

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Ultimately, entry into the Copa Libertadores would be a massive move for both leagues as the competition faced would be a step up in what the CCL offers. But for now, this competition does not serve either league well.