If you had hoped that the lack of noise around Leagues Cup up until this point meant that maybe the competition wouldn’t be making its return for year 2, I have bad news for you because on Wednesday afternoon Leagues Cup announced all the groupings for the 2024 edition of the annual Summer tournament between MLS and Liga MX
Union have been grouped with Charlotte FC, entering their 3rd season in MLS, and Liga MX side, Cruz Azul. While exact match dates haven’t been announced just yet, this year’s competition will run from July 26 to August 25 while both MLS and Liga MX action goes on pause.
The Philadelphia Union’s Group for Leagues Cup 2024
Paired up against FC Dallas and Necaxa of Liga MX, Charlotte topped their Leagues Cup group in 2023 and advanced to the knock-out stage of the competition where they faced off against their 2024 Group stage counterparts in Cruz Azul.
After beating Cruz Azul in penalties after a scoreless draw, Charlotte was able to edge out Houston Dynamo 2-1 after scoring 2 goals past the 80th-minute mark. Charlotte’s Leagues Cup run would come to an unfortunate end in the Quarter Finals of the competition when they ran into Inter Miami and Lionel Messi, the eventual winners of the tournament.
In the 4 times Union and Charlotte have met, Union has a record of 2W-1D-1L, but the 1 loss came with a lot of pain, being the game that pretty much sealed LAFC winning the Supporters Shield in 2022…and we all know how the rest of that story goes…
Charlotte is going through a plethora of changes this off-season, bringing in several new names behind the scenes but haven’t made huge improvements to their squad yet, with 34 GK David Bingham being the only first-team signing thus far.
Cruz Azul finished second in their Leagues Cup group in 2023 against Atlanta and Inter Miami, which you might remember from Messi’s movie-esque free kick goal in his South Florida debut. As I mentioned above, Cruz Azul’s Leagues Cup journey was ended in the Round of 32 by Charlotte FC in PK’s after a scoreless draw.
Cruz Azul will likely be the tougher of the two opponents despite Charlotte having a higher Leagues Cup rating. Cruz Azul has finished in the top 8 of both the Apertura and Clausura all but once since 2020, including finishing top of the Clausura table in back-to-back seasons (2019-20, 2020-21). Currently, Cruz Azul sits in 5th place in the Clausura standings with 2W, 1D, and 1L on the back of 8 goals by Ángel Sepúlveda – the man who scored against Union in last year’s Leagues Cup for Queretaro
This will be the first meeting between Liga MX’s Cruz Azul and Philadelphia Union, and if it’s anything like prior trips to Subaru Park for Mexican sides, the atmosphere should be top-notch with these games pulling the biggest contingency of away fans you’ll likely see during a season.
I’d like to think Union will be happy with this draw when you consider the fact that Inter Miami found themselves amongst the 3rd tier clubs and could have easily landed in Union’s group.
Cruz Azul and Charlotte FC are both teams that Union SHOULD beat, especially while playing both games at Subaru Park. So my early prediction is that Union top the group with wins in both meetings – but some will say that only fools make predictions before we’ve seen a ball kicked.
Key info for the 2024 edition of the tournament
Leagues Cup 2024 will decide three qualifiers for the 2025 Concacaf Champions Cup and an opportunity to earn a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup.
Moving forward, the tournament will introduce a tiered Leagues Cup Ranking system based on MLS team’s 2023 MLS Supporters’ Shield standings, and LIGA MX clubs on the cumulative 34 matches in the 2023 Clausura and Apertura tournaments.
Groups are made up of one team from each of the 3 tiers, farming 15 groups of 3 teams
Leagues Cup will be played in two regions, East and West, with seven groups in the East and eight groups in the West, regionalizing travel for all participating clubs.
The LIGA MX Champion and the three top-ranked LIGA MX clubs will be granted hub privileges, rewarding them by playing in predetermined venues as the home team – Venues TBD
Following the Group Stage, the advancing 30 teams will be joined by LIGA MX and MLS Cup champions (Columbus Crew and Club America, respectively) and will be placed in a fixed bracket to compete in the single-game elimination Knockout Rounds beginning with the Round of 32 (16 matches), followed by Round of 16 (eight matches).
The eight advancing teams will compete in the Quarterfinals (four matches) before the two Semifinal matches. Leagues Cup 2024 Third Place and Final will determine the three Concacaf Champions Cup qualified clubs.
Leagues Cup will maintain its current No Ties format. Each team receives one point if the game is tied after 90 minutes.
The winner of the subsequent penalty shootout will earn an additional point. Regulation wins count as three points, with games being decided by penalty kicks in case of a regular time draw.
Full Leagues Cup Groupings
- West 1: CF Monterrey, Pumas UNAM, Austin FC
- West 2: Chivas de Guadalajara, San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy
- West 3: St. Louis CITY SC, FC Dallas, FC Juárez
- West 4: Toluca FC, Sporting Kansas City, Chicago Fire FC
- West 5: Club León, Portland Timbers, Colorado Rapids
- West 6: Seattle Sounders FC, Minnesota United FC, Club Necaxa
- West 7: LAFC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Club Tijuana
- West 8: Houston Dynamo FC, Real Salt Lake, Atlas FC
- East 1: FC Cincinnati, New York City FC, Querétaro FC
- East 2: Orlando City SC, Atlético de San Luis, CF Montréal
- East 3: Tigres UANL, Puebla, Inter Miami CF
- East 4: Philadelphia Union, Charlotte FC, Cruz Azul
- East 5: New England Revolution, Nashville SC, Mazatlán FC
- East 6: Pachuca, New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC
- East 7: Atlanta United, Santos Laguna, D.C. United
Best League up Bets
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union