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Leagues Cup 2023: How many teams will earn a place in the next Concacaf Champions League?

As well as a trophy and “substantial” financial rewards, there is a significant sporting prize to play for in the new Leagues Cup.

As well as a trophy and “substantial” financial rewards, there is a significant sporting prize to play for in the new League Cup.
Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

There are exciting times ahead for MLS and Liga MX clubs as a brand new competition gets underway this Friday (21 July), with the revamped Leagues Cup set to go some way to giving us an answer as to which is the stronger of the two leagues at the present time.

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What is the format of the 2023 Leagues Cup?

The 45 clubs taking part in the group stage have been divided into 15 groups of three teams across four regions - West, Central, South and East - based on their geographic location with 2022 MLS Cup champion Los Angeles FC and Liga MX Apertura 2022 champions Pachuca both getting byes to the next stage (Round of 32).

The top two teams from each of the 15 groups will advance to the knockout Round of 32. All games that end level in the group stage will be decided by a penalty shootout. The scoring system is as follows: a group stage win earns a team three points, a penalty shootout is worth two points and a shootout defeat will be worth one point for the defeated team.

The knockout stage will whittle the qualified teams down from 32 to two, who will take part in the final on 19 August. All fixtures, both in the group stage and in the knockout rounds, will be one-off games played in the United States and Canada (which the Mexicans can use as an excuse/to gloat about their achievements even further depending on how things go).

Financial and sporting rewards on offer

The winning team will, of course, lift the League Cup trophy, and earn “substantial and valuable” financial rewards, the exact details of which have yet to be revealed by either participating league.

Top three qualify for the Concachampions

But there is also a significant sporting prize for the Leagues Cup’s three best-performing teams. Both finalists will qualify for the 2024 CONCACAF Champions League, with the winner skipping Round One and going straight into the round of 16.

And, as rarely seems to be the case in any major soccer competition, the third/fourth place playoff will actually have something riding on it. The third-place team will also book a place in next year’s “Concachampions”, joining the runners-up in Round One.