|Photo by Matt Kremkau
By Daniel Feuerstein
After twenty-three matches have been played in the 2023 Major League Soccer Season we are now getting ready to take a break in our League season to get ready for a brand new venture. That will be the new setup of the latest edition of the tournament called the Leagues Cup. The New York Red Bulls will play against a rival Eastern Conference team in the New England Revolution and a Liga MX team from Mexico in Athletico San Luis in their group stage.
The knockout stage will consist of opponents from either another MLS or Liga MX side till they reach either the final or the third-place match to earn a trip to the restructured CONCACAF Champions Cup. If the Red Bulls do make the final and win it, they will automatically go straight to the Round of 16, but if they become a finalist, or win the 3rd place match, they will start their Champions Cup campaign in the brand new first round.
Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Sounds like this will be a great tournament from MLS? Well, honestly this is a cash grab interfering with the League Season for this club as it is currently in 11th place and four full points behind DC United for the last spot to reach the playoffs. Currently on the outside looking in. This tournament is interfering with the natural order of how a true league season should be played. I don't understand why MLS Commissioner Don Garber is acting like he is running MLS, US Soccer & CONCACAF all into one.
This is a waste of time and Garber needs to stop creating a plastic tournament and that plastic Campeones Cup to abuse his wild fantasy of these consistent battles between the USA & Mexico. The only time we should be discussing these battles between our two countries is during CONCACAF Club & National Team events, or if these two sides will meet in the knockout rounds of the FIFA World Cup, like the last time in 2002.
Now I admit the caveat to reaching the CONCACAF Champions Cup for the fifth time in club history is still appealing, and to become the second MLS club to win that title to reach the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup will be exciting as well, but here's the problem with the scheduling. Both the 3rd place match and the League Cup final are scheduled for Saturday, August 19th, then back to MLS league play on Sunday, August 20th.
So MLS is telling us that whoever from our league or if the Red Bulls do make it all the way towards the end and qualifies for the Champions Cup, will play against DC United right away? If DC gets eliminated during this tournament, and the Red Bulls make it toward the end, who do you think will benefit from several extra days of rest? You guessed it, it will be DC. The biggest and oldest rival as Hate DC Week will be interfered with the League Cup final match day.
Oh sure, the bigger prize is securing a birth to the Champions Cup, but that would mean playing substandard soccer and our rivals getting the last laugh for no reason. It's very funny how the head of the MLS Players Association in Bob Foose complains about fixture congestion to get rid of the US Open Cup, yet what is the Leagues Cup? Why is that man and Don Garber in bed with each other to discredit a true National Championship o American soccer and a tournament this club has reached the Semi-Finals nearly ten times and reached two finals as well.
If you're looking forward to this tournament, don't let me stop you. Go to Red Bull Arena and support them to defeat both the Revolution and Atletico San Luis. Whoever they face in the knockout rounds, travel and chant you're hearts out. While it's nice to have another road to international cup competition, the truth is the US Open Cup finalist should earn that Champions Cup spot, not this plastic sham called the Leagues Cup.