This summer’s Soccer Champions Tour will compete directly for viewers and popularity with the revamped Leagues Cup. The two competitions overlap in kickoff dates, making for a battle over which can pull in the audiences.
In one corner is the royalty of the sport. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Milan each have three games in the United States. Arsenal and Manchester United also feature. All combined, it’ll be the hottest soccer tickets in America this summer.
That set of eight games goes against an entire tournament involving teams in MLS and Liga MX. Unlike the Soccer Champions Tour, the Leagues Cup is a competition with legitimate consequences. Berths in the CONCACAF Champions League is one. Yet, this is one of the best opportunities to directly compare the Mexican club scene to the American one.
The only challenge is these games happen at the same time. The first games for the Leagues Cup are July 21. However, in order to spread out some of the action to potentially get more viewers, there are a handful of group stage games each day as opposed to making them all at the same time. Also, there are three teams in each Leagues Cup group, which makes scheduling a little more complex.
Overlapping kickoff times in Soccer Champions Tour and Leagues Cup
For example, look at the first games of the Soccer Champions Tour:
On Saturday, July 22, FC Barcelona plays Juventus in a rematch of the 2015 Champions League Final. On the same night, there are five Leagues Cup games. New England plays the New York Red Bulls, Montreal hosts Pumas, Philadelphia welcomes Tijuana, Seattle travels to Salt Lake and Portland faces San Jose.
These are interesting games, sure. Given the novelty of a tournament like the Leagues Cup, it will be interesting to see how these games shake out. As seen in the US Open Cup, or even grander competitions like the FA Cup or Champions League, it is not always the team to perform well in the league that hits the stride in the cup.
Although they are interesting games given the circumstances, the casual soccer fan may see Barcelona playing Juventus and be more interested in that game. With the NFL, NBA and NHL seasons all in their offseason, it may be more likely that an ordinary sports fan puts that game on in the evening.
Part of that certainly comes from exposure. Every single game of the Leagues Cup competition is available on MLS Season Pass. There will be select games on TV, too, as Univision broadcasts select games throughout the competition, and some games will be on UniMás. However, the majority of games are available exclusively through MLS Season Pass.
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The Soccer Champions Tour games, on the other hand, do not have TV coverage details out yet. Experts such as soccer reporter Bob Williams (on this week’s World Soccer Talk Podcast) predict that the TV coverage may end up on ESPN, CBS or both. That is where to find LaLiga and Serie A, respectively, which make up the four main teams in the competition. ESPN and CBS are far more accessible than MLS Season Pass.
Proximity of games also a potential threat
Something else to consider is the fact that, for many Americans, this is a rare chance to see these top teams. Las Vegas, Orlando, Dallas, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area are not new to hosting these top teams. Each of those cities hosted games in the Soccer Champions Tour last year. Regardless, fans will travel from around the country to see these significant games.
Looking at the schedules, one day of concern for the Leagues Cup could be Saturday, July 29. This is the day of El Clasico at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. That same day, there are games in Austin and Atlanta, both of which are fairly close to Dallas. Fans in Texas or the greater south would have to decide if they want to see Austin FC play Juarez or el Clásico in the United States.
Fan attendance and the emotion involved with the games could play a major role in how well this new format and experience looks between Major League Soccer and Liga MX.
2023 Soccer Champions Tour Schedule:
Saturday, July 22 — FC Barcelona vs. Juventus — Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA — Find tickets
Sunday, July 23 — Real Madrid vs. AC Milan — The Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, CA — Find tickets
Wednesday, July 26 — Arsenal vs. FC Barcelona — SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA — Find tickets
Wednesday, July 26 — Real Madrid vs. Manchester United — NRG Stadium, Houston, TX — Find tickets
Thursday, July 27 — Juventus vs. AC Milan — Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, CA — Find tickets
Saturday, July 29 — FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid — AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX — Find tickets
Tuesday, August 1 — AC Milan vs. FC Barcelona — Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV — Find tickets
Wednesday, August 2 — Juventus vs. Real Madrid — Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL — Find tickets
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