Major League Soccer announced the clubs and dates for the 2020 Leagues Cup. Starting July 21, eight MLS clubs will take on eight Liga MX clubs to lift the second Leagues Cup in history.
The Philadelphia Union, Real Salt Lake, Minnesota United FC, LA Galaxy, Toronto FC, DC United, Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls will represent MLS. Liga MX will announce who will join the competition following the conclusion of the 2020 Clausura campaign.
For Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez of the LA Galaxy, the opportunity to match up against teams from his home country will be special.
“I think it’s a good opportunity, apart from the Champions League,” Hernandez. “I think it’s a very good tournament that both leagues are doing so they can increase that rivalry.”
Teams will start the Round of 16 on July 21 and 22. The quarterfinal round will be held on Aug. 4 and 5, followed by the semifinals on Aug. 25 and 26. The 2020 Leagues Cup final will be played on Sept. 16 at a site to be determined.
Cruz Azul won the first edition, defeating Tigres UANL, 2-1, in Las Vegas, in the eight-team tournament,
Learning from one another
For Chicharito, the Leagues Cup will be yet another opportunity for MLS to learn from Liga MX and vice versa.
“When you have a healthy competition for both leagues it’s very good,” he said. “You can see what MLS needs to grow. And on the other side what Liga MX, even if they are a little bit on a bigger step than MLS, they need to learn about MLS. It doesn’t matter which league is better, I think both leagues need to keep growing, to keep learning from one another and I think this tournament will help for that.”
Portland Timbers head coach Gio Savarese will make his Leagues Cup debut this year. The 48 year-old likes MLS clubs’ chances in the competition given the league’s rapid growth.
“We are catching up. I think that MLS is growing very quickly,” Savarese said. “I think that the quality of MLS allows you to show that we are able to be more competitive in these matches against Mexican teams.”
Omar Gonzalez spent time in both leagues. This season, he will suit for the first Canadian Leagues Cup representatives, Toronto FC. For the defender who won an MLS Cup, a Liga MX title and the Concacaf Champions League, Gonzalez believes MLS club may have an advantage in this competition.
“I think after spending four years in Mexico and then coming back to MLS, I think the gap is closing,” Gonzalez said. “Mexico is still a bit ahead of us, but what I like about this tournament is that the tables are turned in a sense. They’ll be in preseason and we’ll be full swing into our season.”
The Leagues Cup is only in its second iteration, but for Gonzalez, the tournament may be a way to show what MLS is capable of.
“We’ll see how we can do in this tournament because we’ve seen in Concacaf Champions League where we come into the season and it’s a bit unfair,” he said. “They’ve already have seven games and we’re just coming through preseason. It’s been dominated by Mexican teams and now, at the start of this tournament, hopefully we can do a bit better and showing how far we’ve come along over the years.”