Leagues Cup Roundup: The Round of 16 takes center stage

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

The inaugural Leagues Cup, a World Cup-style competition between all MLS and Liga MX teams has made its way to the Round of 16. The final 16 teams play for a chance to make the quarterfinals this Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday!

Leagues Cup
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Leagues Cup Round of 16

The final eight matches will be played over the next three nights. A spot in the quarterfinals is on the line, and there are plenty of big teams and big names still left in this competition! Here’s a look at the schedule:

  • Dallas vs Miami | Sunday, Aug. 6 | 9:30 pm EST
  • Philadelphia vs Red Bulls | Monday, Aug. 7 | 7:30 pm EST
  • Querétaro vs New England | Monday, Aug. 7 | 8 pm EST
  • Charlotte vs Houston | Monday, Aug. 7 | 10 pm EST
  • América vs Nashville | Tuesday, Aug. 8 | 8 pm EST
  • Toluca vs Minnesota | Tuesday, Aug. 8 | 8:30 pm EST
  • Tigres vs Monterrey | Tuesday, Aug. 8 | 10 pm EST
  • LAFC vs Salt Lake | Tuesday, Aug. 8 | 10:30 pm EST

Lionel Messi and Miami play their first away match of the tournament at FC Dallas tonight, while the rest of the South and East matches take place on Monday. All of the West and South matches will be played Tuesday with big-name Liga MX teams taking center stage! Let’s take a look at the final four of each region to see how they got there and who might be moving on!

Leagues Cup
Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi (10) makes a free kick to score a goal during the second half of a Leagues Cup soccer match against Cruz Azul, Friday, July 21, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Inter Miami defeated Cruz Azul 2-1. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Final Four in the East: Philly, New York, Querétaro, and New England

The East Region runs through Philadelphia. They are the top seed in the region and in their whole half of the bracket including the South region. They cruised through the group stage beating Tijuana and Querétaro, then ran into a DC United team that made things difficult for them. A sloppy 0-0 contest meant the two sides needed to be separated by PKs. Philly prevailed and now they take on New York Red Bulls.

The Red Bulls were able to win their group drawing New England and beating San Luis. In their Round of 32, they got to take on their cross-river rivals NYCFC. They beat them after scoring a pk in the first half. Now they head to Chester to play the Union. Philly are on a 10-game unbeaten streak against the red side of New York will we see them make it 11, or will the Red Bulls get some revenge and move onto the quarterfinals of the Leagues Cup?

Club Querétaro got whooped by Philadelphia, but beat Tijuana in the group stage, and then was able to take out fellow Liga MX side Pumas in the Leagues Cup Round of 32. They scored a wonder goal to win the match on a rainy day in DC. Now they head to New England to play the Revolution!

New England Revolution drew Red Bulls beat San Luis and had to take on Liga MX side Atlas in the Round of 32. It looked like their run might be over early on as they went down 2-0 after 11 minutes. Gustavo Bou scored two to tie the match for New England and force pens. New England would win that contest 8-7 and move on. Can they keep their dominance over Liga MX teams in this Leagues Cup competition?

The Final Four in the South: Dallas, Miami, Charlotte, and Houston

Miami has looked like a completely new team, since they pretty much are. Bringing in Barcelona legends Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba will do that for a team. They cruised to wins over Cruz Azul, and Atlanta in the Leagues Cup group stage, and dispatched cross-state rivlas orlando 3-1. Now they go on the road for their first time with Messi and Co. as they take on FC Dallas.

FC Dallas has done well in Leagues Cup so fae. They drew Charlotte, smashed Necaxa, and then took care Mazatlán in the Round of 32. They have scored two or more goals in every match so far in this competition, and now they welcome the Miami newcomers to a hot and steamy Frisco Texas. Can this Dallas side be the ones to hand Messi his first loss with Miami?

Charlotte FC has done very well in the South region in this Leagues Cup. They drew Dallas, but beat them in PKs, and scored four on Necaxa in the group stage. They then faced a Cruz Azul side that made things difficult for the MLS side. This match was 0-0 and went to penalty kicks. Charlotte prevailed 4-3 and now travel to Houston to take on the Dynamo in the Round of 16!

Houston has been one of the most interesting teams at this Leagues Cup. They have drawn each match they’ve played in the tournament, but since there are technically no draws they’ve gone to PKs three different times. They fell in their first shootout vs Orlando, beat Santos Leguna, and then in the Round of 32 bested a Pachuca side that had a bye to the knockout rounds. Can they continue to battle against a strong Charlotte side, and will we see them continue to move on through PKs?

The Final Four in the West: LAFC, Salt Lake, Tigres, and Monterrey

LAFC had a bye into the Round of 32 at this Leagues Cup since they won MLS Cup last season. Their first match was against Liga MX side Juarez, and it started well. They got the opening goal in the 31st minute and took a lead into half time. Juarez came out swinging and tied th game minutes into the second half, and how did LAFC respond? by scoring six unanswered goals to win 7-1. Now they host an RSL side that has ben a thorn in the side of this team for a while.

Real Salt Lake has been a team that has been up and down in this Leagues Cup. They defeated Seattle Sounders 3-0, then fell to Montrerrey 3-0. They still did enough to make the knockout rounds, and took on reigning CCL champions Club León. León scored in the eighth minute to take the lead, but RSL didn’t go away. An onslaught in the last 20 minutes saw them score three goals in 12 minutes to get a convincing win. Now they take on LAFC to renew a budding MLS rivalry, this time with a spot in the Leagues Cup quarterfinals on the line

Tigres is a giant in Liga MX, and showed just how dominant they are in the group stage of this competition. They dispatched Portland and San Jose and then played a crafty Vancouver side in the Round of 32. Vancouver scored inside the first 10 minutes, but star striker Andre-Pierre Gignac scored a bycicly kick to tie the match. PKs were needed to decide a winner, and Nahuel Guzman was able to be the hero and help Tigres move on to take on cross-town rivals Monterrey!

Monterrey has been able to assert their dominance over MLS sides in this Leagues Cup. They beat RSL 3-0, Seattle 4-2, and Portland 1-0 in the Round of 32. All of this set up a darby between their hated rivals Tigres in the Round of 16. In the previous 39 matches things have been very even; 14 wins for Tigres, 13 draws, and 12 wins for Monterrey. Who will come out on top on Tuesday night in Houston?

The Final Four in the Central: Minnesota, Toluca, América, and Nashville

Minnesota United are putting all of their efforts into this Leagues Cup campaign. It might be their only opportunity to win a trophy this season, but it hasn’t been easy. They beat Puebla, but lost to Chicago in the group stage. In the Round of 32 they took on Columbus Crew and played a thriller; it ended 3-3 and Minnesota won the pk shootout 4-3. The Loons advance on to take on a team that hasn’t lost in this Leagues Cup, Toluca.

Toluca has been one of the surprises of the tournament, the ninth place team in Liga MX currently has scored four goals in each of their three matches. They beat Nashville 4-3, Colorado 4-1, and SKC 4-1 in a knockout game. Theri confidence should be at an all time high, but can they deal another devastating blow to yet another MLS western conference team, Minnesota?

Club América is the biggest team in Liga MX, and for good reason. They routinely are competitive, and they usually smash MLS opposition. They did so against MLS new-comers St. Louis 4-0, but then uncharacteristically fell to Columbus 4-1. América did enough to make the Round of 32, but could only manage one goal scored against a struggling Chicago side. Now they progress to the Round of 16 in Leagues Cup where they will play Nashville SC.

Nashville has been one of MLS best teams over the last few seasons, and now in a new international competition they get to show their quality on a bigger stage. In the Leagues Cup group stage they beat Colorado, but fell to Toluca in a thriller 4-3. This set up a Round of 32 date with rivals FC Cincinnati. After a 1-1 match, pks would determine who moved on. Nashville made all five of their penalties while Cincy could only make four. Nashville now gets the chance to play the big boys of Liga MX América in the Round of 16!

Leagues Cup
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union & AP Photo/Lynne Sladky