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Sporting KC will compete in the 2021 Leagues Cup

“The good thing about this club, the good thing and bad thing, is that we take everything very seriously.” - Ilie Sanchez

Cruz Azul v Tigres UANL: Final - 2019 Leagues Cup Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

Sporting Kansas City is one of four Major League Soccer teams that will be in the 2021 edition of the Leagues Cup. MLS and LIGA MX have brought the tournament back after skipping 2020 during the pandemic era. The two leagues announced some details about the 2021 Leagues Cup.

It will again be a single-elimination tournament featuring clubs from MLS and LIGA MX, with four of the top finishing teams from both leagues.

Joining Sporting Kansas City as one of the qualified MLS teams for 2021 is Orlando City SC, Seattle Sounders FC, and New York City FC. Participating LIGA MX clubs will be confirmed in May, at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season.

The Columbus Crew SC, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers and Atlanta United will compete in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.

Leagues Cup

The Leagues Cup will be played entirely in the U.S. and is scheduled to start August 9th with Quarterfinal matches. The Semifinals should be the week of September 13 with the Leagues Cup Final the week of September 20 in a neutral venue.

The one previous edition in 2019 only saw one MLS team advance out of the quarterfinals and both teams in the final were from LIGA MX with Cruz Azul taking the inaugural trophy.

The original plan was to extend the Leagues Cup to additional teams and that may still be the plan for the future but for now they will stick with four teams from each league.

Campeones Cup

MLS and LIGA MX is also bringing back the Campeones Cup. In the 2021 version, the reigning MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew SC will go against the winner of LIGA MX’s Campeón de Campeones. The champion of LIGA MX will be decided when the Clausura and Apertura winners face off after the completion of the Clausura.

Campeones Cup History

2021 Columbus Crew SC vs. LIGA MX TBD New Crew Stadium, Columbus, OH

2019 Atlanta United 3, Club América 2 Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA

2018 Tigres UANL 3, Toronto FC 1 BMO Field, Toronto, Canada

Both MLS and LIGA MX look to use these competitions to raise their profiles and gather new fans. “We’re excited to re-start the Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup competitions in 2021 and continue to build on our partnership with LIGA MX,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber via press release. “We have seen the great rivalry that exists on the field between MLS and LIGA MX clubs, and these events provide a unique opportunity for fans to see their club compete in meaningful international competition while creating enormous interest and attention for both leagues.”

Manager Peter Vermes has built a culture of trying to win any and every possible competition in front of them and the Leagues cup will be no different.

“I think it is a great competition for us to be involved in, I think when you have a chance as a club to go out and play other professional leagues in and around the area, Mexico being the best, it is a great way for us to continue to compete and compare ourselves against a great league,” Vermes stated in a club released video. “Whenever we have a chance to win something, we are going to put the best team we can on the field at that moment to try and win.”

Spanish midfielder Ilie Sanchez agreed with his manager. “The good thing about this club, the good thing and bad thing, is that we take everything very seriously. It doesn’t matter what competition we are in, we’re going to try to do our 100%. But it is a very special competition because we are going to play really good teams and we have confidence in our team too so we are not going to play sitting back or trying to be the small team. This team has a strong culture and that is going for every win we will have in front of us.”

The last time Sporting KC faced LIGA MX teams was in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League. SKC destroyed Toluca in the first round, beat Panamanian side CAI before being outclassed by eventual champion Monterrey.