After Cruz Azul hoisted the Copa México trophy on an August afternoon in 1996, the tournament was put to rest as part of a format shift that involved replacing the traditional long season with two short ones per year. Phasing out the cup was meant to ease the burden of players and teams who would be potentially subjected to almost 50 matches a year.
More than a decade and a half later, the Copa México (now renamed Copa MX) will make its return to the fold, once again as part of a revamped league. Aside from having to play for two league championships every year, teams will participate in two domestic cup tournaments.
Much like the old style of play, teams will be divided into seven groups of four teams each, where round-robin play will decide who moves on to the knockout rounds. 28 teams (14 from the Liga MX and another 14 from the Ascenso MX) will fight for just eight spots in the next stage.
Groups were split so as to feature two teams from the top tier and two teams from the second division. Only Tigres, Chivas, Monterrey and Santos Laguna will be absent from the tournament due to their commitments in the CONCACAF Champions League. Cruz Azul Hidalgo was left off from the tournament on the Ascenso MX side.
(Liga MX teams in italics.)
Group 1: León/Morelia/Dorados de Sinaloa/UAG
Group 2: Altamira/Atlas/Cruz Azul/Neza
Group 3: Atlante/UDG/La Piedad/Pachuca
Group 4: Jaguares/Necaxa/Pumas Morelos/San Luis
Group 5: América/Correcaminos/Querétaro/Veracruz
Group 6: Celaya/Mérida/Tijuana/UNAM
Group 7: Irapuato/Lobos BUAP/Puebla/Toluca
León vs. UAG - Aug. 7 & 21: The last team to be promoted against the last to be demoted.
Cruz Azul vs. Neza - Aug. 29 & Sept. 18: A rematch of the 1996 Copa México final.
Tijuana vs. Mérida - July 24 & 31: Old Liga de Ascenso rivals hook up once more.
América vs. Veracruz - July 25 & Aug. 2: América will visit the port for the first time in years.
Puebla vs. Lobos BUAP - Aug. 7 & 21: Puebla derby between city's two teams will create sparks.
WHERE TO WATCH
ESPN3, ESPN Dos, Azteca America, Univision Deportes Network, and Fox Sports will carry games live starting Tuesday, July 24.
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