The Leagues Cup has been drama-filled, producing hectic games and possibly new rivalries between MLS and Liga MX. Now the tournament is getting down to the nitty-gritty as the final eight teams are all preparing to play on Friday night for a spot in the final four!
Leagues Cup Quarterfinals
The quarterfinals are set! The last eight will all play for a spot in the semifinals. Six American MLS teams and two Liga MX sides are still alive with the hopes of winning the first-ever Leagues Cup! Here’s a look at the four matches that are coming at ya at the end of the week!
- Philadelphia vs Querétaro | Friday, Aug 11 | 8 pm EST
- Miami vs Charlotte | Friday, Aug 11 | 8:30 pm EST
- Nashville vs Minnesota | Friday, Aug 11 | 8:30 pm EST
- LAFC vs Monterrey | Friday, Aug 11 | 10:30 pm EST
All four of these matches will be electric. We have a rematch from the group stage in the East, a David vs Goliath story in the South, two dark horses facing off in the Central, and two giants playing in the Rose Bowl in the West!
Philadelphia vs Querétaro: who wins the East region?
The Philadelphia Union has had a tale of two tournaments in Leagues Cup. They breezed through the Group stage beating Liga MX side Tijuana 3-1 and Querétaro 5-1 respectively. Then came the beginning of the knockout rounds. Philly got past DC 5-4 on PKS after a 0-0 match in the Round of 32 and just was able to get past New York Red Bull on penalties after a 1-1 game. Now they head into the quarterfinals as the favorites to win the east over the team that they beat 5-1 in the group stage.
Philly will come into this match a bit worse for wear as their star number 10 Daniel Gazdag will be out with a knee injury. Leading the attack will be Julian Carranza and Mikael Uhre in his absence. Will this loss in personnel be enough for Querétaro to get the upper hand and beat the Union?
Querétaro’s group stage is basically Philly’s flip-flopped. One of the last two remaining Liga MX sides was thought to be dead in the water after losing to Philly in their first match of the group stage. They responded by beating Tijuana 1-0 and moved on to the knockout rounds. They took on a giant in their league, Pumas in the Round of 32. They beat them 1-0 on a wonder strike from Angel Sepulveda. Then in the Round of 16, they pushed New England Revolution to penalties dispatching them 4-3 to get their rematch.
They will be chomping at the bit to take on a Philly team that spanked them in their first match of this competition. Querétaro has played much, much better after their thumping from Philly, now they will head back to Subaru Park with the chance to make the semifinals of Leagues Cup. Will they be able to pull of the shock upset?
Miami vs Charlotte: who wins the South region?
The Messi-Miami magic has been a crazy experience. Miami was the worst team in MLS and got Messi Busquets and others to go along with new coach Tata Martino and suddenly this looks like the favorite to win this brand new competition. After wins over Cruz Azul and Atlanta, this Miami side screamed into the knockout rounds and beat Orlando 3-1, but had to come from behind to beat FC Dallas. Dallas was up by two with 10 minutes to play and let an own goal go in and then gave up a free kick that Messi absolutely buried. Now the pink Herons will take on Charlotte FC.
The quarterfinal clash with Charlotte will be an interesting one. Miami’s players are miles ahead of Charlotte’s on paper, but games aren’t played there. Charlotte has played with the majority of possession in this tournament and looks to play the beautiful game to beat their opponents. If Miami’s defense gives up goals like they did against Dallas, they could just falter before the Leagues Cup semifinals.
Charlotte FC is one of the teams that has flown under the radar in this Leagues Cup. They drew Dallas in their first match, then beat them in PKs to get that extra point, and beat Necaxa 4-1 to go on to the knockout rounds. In the knockouts, they pushed Cruz Azul to a penalty shootout where they won 4-3 to move on. In the Round of 16, it looked like they were going to crash out against Houston. An 80th-minute goal tied the game, and then an 81st-minute own goal gave them a 2-1 lead. They saw out the remaining minutes to progress to take on Messi in Miami. Can they do the unthinkable?
No one has really looked at Charlotte as a contender at this Leagues Cup. However, they are a game away from the final four. Could this underdog mentality give them the boost they need to go into Miami and beat the GOAT? It seems unlikely, but if they can get their attack going as they have done in some matches, then we just might see Charlotte knockout Messi.
Nashville vs Minnesota: who wins the Central region?
Nashville SC has been a top team in MLS this season, but their status at this Leagues Cup has been that of a dark horse. Their group stage was up-and-down. They won a match they were expected to win against Colorado, but then fell to Toluca in a crazy 4-3 game. After that loss, it was almost like people doubted Nashville, and their eyes were fixed on other teams and star players. As Nashville made their way to the knockouts they played the top team in MLS, Cincinnati, and the biggest team in Liga MX, América, beating both of them in PKs to move on.
This team should not be considered a dark horse in Leagues Cup after dispatching Cincinnati and América, but yet they still are. The talent of this Nashville side is that of the tournament-winning caliber, and now they get to host their quarterfinal against a true dark horse team Minnesota United.
Minnesota United is not just one of the dark horses at this Leagues Cup, they are THE dark horse. At least that’s what they want you to think. Minnesota wants people to think they are an underdog even when they are getting some really good results. Minnesota won their first match of the group stage 4-0 against Puebla but then fell to Chicago. Heading into the knockout rounds many thought this was the same-old Minnesota United team. However, their form in the knockout rounds has been one that produces goals. They scored three against Colombus and two against Toluca, but they also conceded that many in those matches as well.
This side seems to have what is needed to win a PK shootout, which is what all dark horses need in a knockout tournament. Will Minnesota be up to the task of stopping a high-flying Nashville, and push them to penalties to keep their dream Leagues Cup run going?
LAFC vs Monterrey: who wins the West region?
LAFC got to sit out the Leagues Cup group stage, having a bye to the Round of 32. They got their wish of rest, and boy has it seemed to have paid off for them. In their two knockout games, Los Angeles has scored 11 goals and conceded just one. This is as impressive as it seems, and LAFC has been able to incorporate new attacking players into their team in these matches as well. We all know Bouanga and Vela, but now newcomers Ordaz and Krastev are scoring as well. The reigning MLS Cup champions seem to be the favorites to come out of the west/central side of the bracket.
While LAFC has looked perfect in their two matches so far, they now face their stiffest competition in Monterrey. On top of that, they will play this game at “home” but not their home stadium. LAFC will play Monterrey in the Rose Bowl, which could take away their home-field advantage. Can this Los Angeles side be able to keep this mesmerizing Leagues Cup form up, or will they falter?
Monterrey is a giant in Liga MX, and their play at this Leagues Cup has only elevated that status. They creamed Real Salt Lake 3-0 and Seattle Sounders 4-2 in the group stage. In the knockouts, the goals haven’t been flowing as much as they were in the group stage, but Monterrey did just enough to get to this point. A 1-0 win over Portland and then a 1-0 win over cross-town rival Tigres thanks to a late game penalty has them in the quarterfinals. As the last Liga MX giant left, can they keep the league’s dominance over MLS alive?
While this Monterrey side will be the away side against LAFC, many of their fans will help fill the Rose Bowl to create a crazy atmosphere. LAFC has scored boatloads of goals in their matches so far, but Monterrey has yet to concede in the knockout rounds. Which side will prevail on the day and move on to the Leagues Cup semifinals?
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union & AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell.