The Concacaf Leagues Cup knockout stage kicks off on Wednesday with five of 32 spots still unclaimed ahead of the final Group-Stage Gameday tonight.
Before Monday’s quadruple-header, 11 Liga MX teams knew they would continue their pursuit of Leagues Cup glory, while Toluca, Guadalajara and Puebla awaited their fate heading into their respective group-stage finales.
Puebla is the least likely to advance after losing their opener 4-0. The Camoteros must defeat group leader Chicago Fire FC to punch their ticket to the knockout round.
The Chivas must triumph over Sporting KC (in regulation or in a shootout) while Toluca needs only a draw against Colorado Rapids.
Liga MX winning head-to-head battle vs MLS
Four Mexican clubs (Necaxa, Santos Laguna, Tijuana and Atlético de San Luis) have already packed up their bags and will head home with little to do until the Liga MX season resumes in mid-August.
In contrast, seven of the 29 MLS clubs that started the tournament have been dismissed.
After a slow start to the Leagues Cup, Liga MX sides have found a nice rhythm in games vs. MLS opponents. MLS came out of the gate fast, winning 6, losing just 3 with 2 tie games.
Since then, Mexican clubs have won 10, lost just 4 with 1 draw. And Cruz Azul resolved that one draw by beating (and eliminating) Atlanta United in a penalty shootout.
So overall, Liga MX leads in the mano a mano standings, boasting a 13-3-10 advantage (and winning two of the resulting three shootouts).
All four of Monday’s games feature a Liga MX-vs-MLS challenge so the US league could turn the tables with a good night.
Monterrey’s Berterame tops scoring list
Germán Berterame charged to the top of the race for the Leagues Cup Golden Boot, registering a hat trick in Monterrey’s 4-2 win over Seattle Sounders.
The 24-year-old Rayados forward opened his Leagues Cup ledger with a brace in his club’s 3-0 victory over Real Salt Lake.
His 5 goals is one better than Daniel Gazdag (Philadelphia Union), Brandon Vázquez (FC Cincinnati) and Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Minnesota United FC). Along with Berterama, all three of these snipers will participate in the Round of 32.
Leagues Cup benefits a big help to majority of Liga MX franchises
To those who dismiss this Concacaf tournament as a money grab, well … I’d argue with you if you were wrong. But the Leagues Cup is undoubtedly a windfall for most Liga MX teams.
Each team earns $100,000 per game played with another $50,000 tossed if they come out a winner. That’s not bad for the occasional travel nightmares that have cropped up.
Very few Liga MX teams can bring in a crowd at a US stadium and earn 100 grand per game. That was made clear by scanning the seats at the two all-Liga MX contests during the group stage. Attendance numbers for the FC Juárez-Mazatlán FC and the Querétaro-Tijuana matches were worse than dismal.
Bigger clubs such as Cruz Azul and the Pumas have significant followings in the United States while Northern Giants Monterrey and Tigres garner attention with exhibition matches north of the border. So they are getting scale, you might say.
There are only two Liga MX clubs that had to “sacrifice” earning potential in this tournament, and that short list is comprised of América and Guadalajara. The Aguilas and the Chivas can rake in about $300,000 per game on a preseason tour.
Both América and Guadalajara executives fully backed Leagues Cup participation, showing their willingness to adhere to the maxim “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
And it doesn’t hurt that the winner of the Leagues Cup tournament could walk home with a cool $1 million dollars in their pockets.