MLS commissioner Don Garber reaffirmed his belief that the Leagues Cup should only feature in the United States, not in Mexico. However, he did not cite the new stadiums in the country or the fact that more American teams are in the competition. Instead, his principal reason for keeping the tournament in the USA is because MLS clubs outperformed Liga MX clubs.

Inter Miami, one of the bottom teams in MLS, went on a sensational run to win its first trophy. Much of that came on the back of heroic performances of one of the greatest players of all time, Lionel Messi. Along the way, Messi and Inter Miami only played one Liga MX side. That was a group-stage win over Cruz Azul when Messi made his debut with the club.

By comparison, Monterrey had the best performance of any Liga MX club, as it reached the semifinal. There were only five clubs from Mexico in the last 16 of the competition, with a further two making it to the last eight. In the round of 32, there were 12 teams from Liga MX, meaning almost two-thirds of the teams in the knockout stage of the competition played in Liga MX.

Garber said he does not want the Leagues Cup to compete with the CONCACAF Champions Cup, which is the redesigned CONCACAF Champions League. Having both Liga MX and MLS teams have home games makes it more resemble the continental competition.

“I don’t think it should compete with the Champions Cup and I think once you start having home and away it starts to look like that. I am not sure if that’s in the best interest of the two leagues and our confederation,” Garber said.

MLS clubs benefit from no Leagues Cup games in Mexico

Liga MX clubs struggled with the accommodations for their Leagues Cup games. On several occasions, teams had to travel across the country. Then, there were often flight issues. For example, a plane issue left Leon stranded at the airport. As a result, the club’s next game against the LA Galaxy was delayed. Despite the delay, Leon still won that game in Los Angeles.

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Moreover, Garber took exception to some of the complaints from Liga MX clubs. In addition to the travel, Liga MX clubs took great exception to the refereeing. He says the Leagues Cup was a partnership that Mexican clubs suggested. Any backtracking diminishes that partnership.

“We worked really hard to ensure that our clubs knew that this was a tournament that was a joint venture. We jointly own this tournament (with Liga MX). So, if we do things that are [going to] belittle the tournament, it affects our partnership.”

Garber says Liga MX clubs playing in the United States can allow their American audiences to see them live.

“I think economically, it certainly makes sense to have it here in the United States. But I think it’s a great opportunity for Liga MX clubs to be able to provide their fans who are living in the United States an opportunity to see all their teams, as opposed to two or three teams that are here summer after summer.”

To be fair, Liga MX does have a strong following in the United States. However, Liga MX supporters in Mexico should also have the opportunity to see their club play at home in a cup competition like this.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Agencia-MexSport