Garber expecting more MLS-Liga MX interleague competition

Michael Bradley Jesus Duenas Tigres Toronto FC Campeones Cup 2018LARS HAGBERG

MLS Commissioner Don Garber expects to see more fruit next year from a partnership his league announced with Liga MX in March of 2018.

Prior to Garber's State of the League address, MLS confirmed that Campeones Cup, which pits the MLS Cup champion against Liga MX's Campeon de Camepones winner, will take place August 14 of next year and be hosted by the winner of MLS Cup.

But with both leagues looking to make inroads with fans in other North American countries and the 2026 World Cup hosted in the U.S., Mexico and Canada quickly approaching, the one-off match is set to be joined by more matches between teams from North America's top leagues.

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"We and Liga MX believe that there’s an opportunity to expand beyond that," Garber said. "In what ways can we have more compelling content or competition for our teams and doing it in a way where our mutual fan bases, particularly as it relates to trying to get the game more popular leading to '26? We were down in Mexico meeting with Liga MX when we were there for World Leagues Forum. We’ll continue to have those conversations.

"We’re certainly going to do that in cooperation with Concacaf, but I’d like to think that we can go beyond where we are now which was our first iteration of interleague play which was a championship. The Camepon de Camepones champion playing against our champion in the Campeones Cup. I think you’ll see some changes to that format next year, but we’re big believers in it. You should know that on Univision that game had 1.3 million viewers, and that was a game that took place in Canada, so there’s a real opportunity to build on rivalry that exists between our national team between our club teams."

The initial announcement mentioned cooperation in the All-Star Game, but while Garber said he thinks it 'would be cool' to see an MLS All-Star team and a Liga MX All-Star team face off, the 2019 game will still pit MLS' top players against an international club team.

Last season MLS' Homegrown All-Stars took on the Tigres U-20 team in the homegrown game, and Garber said more senior-level games should be coming.

"We’re trying hard to put more meat on the bone, and I think you’ll start seeing over the next year more and more announcements coming out of that cooperation group," he said.

Cooperation and competition between MLS and Liga MX is nothing new. Teams from both leagues played the Superliga competition each year between 2007 and 2010. 

"We’ve been thinking about playing in competition with the Mexican league for a really, really long time. They are our neighbors," Garber said. "We are members, really in many ways drivers of Concacaf. Our national team games are some of the biggest sporting events on the sporting calendar regardless of what sport it is, so we’ve been trying to make this bigger and bigger."