In late July and early August, Austin FC is competing in a brand-new, one-of-a-kind tournament: the first-ever Leagues Cup. Here’s everything you need to know about the competition and the prizes Austin FC is vying for.
What is Leagues Cup?
Leagues Cup is tournament featuring all 47 clubs from Major League Soccer and Liga MX, being played for the first time in 2023. Both teams are pausing their respective seasons for the tournament, which is unique worldwide for the fact it is being played between every club in two different leagues.
The competition will see 77 total matches played, beginning with a group stage followed by five single elimination knockout rounds. The action kicked off on Friday, July 21, and wraps up with the final on Saturday, August 19.
While MLS champions Los Angeles FC and Liga MX champions Pachuca get byes straight to the Round of 32, the other 45 participating clubs have been split into 15 groups of three teams each based on 2022 league standings and geographic region. Teams will face both of their group stage opponents once, and the top two teams from every group will advance to the knockout rounds.
The Leagues Cup group stages have one important difference to typical tournament play. Matches cannot finish as a draw – if the game is tied at the end of regulation, both teams will receive one point before competing in a penalty shootout. Whichever team wins the shootout receives an additional point.
What’s at stake?
In addition to prize money for clubs and players, the teams which finish in first, second, and third place at Leagues Cup will qualify for the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. The tournament winners advance directly to the Champions Cup Round of 16, in addition to lifting the Leagues Cup trophy.
Who, when, and where does Austin FC play?
Austin FC was drawn into group South 1 and is one of only two MLS teams to be drawn into a group with two other Liga MX sides. As a result of its fourth-place finish in the 2022 Supporters’ Shield standings, Austin is the seeded team in its group.
The Verde & Black opened group stage play on Friday, July 21 against Mazatlán FC. Mazatlán and Juárez then squared off on Tuesday, July 25, and Austin and Juárez will meet on Saturday, July 29 to close out group play. All three matches will take place at Q2 Stadium, with tickets on-sale now.
After those matches, whichever two teams have the most points will advance to the Round of 32. With hosting rights in the knockout rounds determined by last year’s Supporters’ Shield standings, Austin would play all of its Leagues Cup matches at home unless facing LAFC, Philadelphia Union, or CF Montréal.
How can I watch?
If you can’t make it to Q2 Stadium, all 77 Leagues Cup matches will be available to watch in English and Spanish on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. All Austin FC matches will also feature live radio broadcasts on iHeart Radio’s ALT 97.5 in English, as well as on TUDN Radio Austin (104.3-HD2, KLQB) in Spanish.