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Soccer

MLS and Liga MX are partnering for a new tournament called the Leagues Cup

Real Salt Lake v Los Angeles Galaxy
The Galaxy huddle before the start of a game against Real Salt Lake at Dignity Health Sports Park on April 28 in Carson.
(Katharine Lotze / Getty Images)

Major League Soccer and Mexico’s Liga MX announced Wednesday that they are partnering on a new bi-national tournament, the Leagues Cup, which will debut in July and feature four clubs from each country.

The Galaxy were among the MLS teams chosen to participate in the inaugural event and will kick off against Tijuana on July 23 at 8 p.m. PDT at Dignity Health Sports Park. The Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake are the other MLS participants. All are former league champions who play in cities with sizable Mexican populations.

The remaining Liga MX teams are Club America, the 13-time reigning champion, and Cruz Azul, an eight-time Liga MX winner, both from Mexico City, and Tigres, a three-time champion from Monterrey.

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The annual tournament will be played in a single-elimination format. The other first-round games will include Cruz Azul visiting Chicago to play the Fire on July 23 with Club America playing the Dynamo in Houston and Tigres taking on Real Salt Lake in Sandy, Utah, on July 24.

“Mexico and USA. That rivalry, it’s been going on for so many years,” said Galaxy midfielder Joe Corona, a U.S. national team player who spent five years with Tijuana and one season with Club America. “It will be very exciting to have a tournament like that. The league here is growing a lot. It’s a good way to know where we stand as a league, having Liga MX so close to us.”

The second round will be played Aug. 20, at U.S. venues to be determined, with the final set for the U.S. on Sept. 18.

“It’s going to be really intense,” Galaxy midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, a Mexican national team player, said in Spanish. “I’m really excited for this, to play against a Mexican club. It’s going to be a unique experience for me, for the club, for the league. It’s really important for its growth. This was a really good decision.

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“I’m really happy for the chance to return to my country, play against a Mexican team and have that experience.”

The event has been sanctioned by CONCACAF, the ruling confederation for soccer in North America. The four Liga MX participants were selected based on results in recent competitions while the MLS clubs were invited to compete. Tournament organizers say they will explore the possibility of expanding the field in 2020.

“This great event will mark a new start in this relationship moving forward, with a long-term vision,” Enrique Bonilla, the executive president of Liga MX, said in a statement.

Both leagues already compete in the CONCACAF Champions League, a 16-team confederation-wide tournament that often comes down to an MLS-Liga MX final. Mexican clubs have held the title since 2006, beating a Mexican or MLS opponent in every final since 2008.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public on June 6 at 10 a.m. PDT at www.LeaguesCup.com. Additional information is available at LeaguesCup.com.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com | Twitter: @kbaxter11


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