Thursday’s soccer news starts with the 2023 MLS All-Star game, where Arsenal won 5-0 at Audi Field. Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring for Arsenal in the 5th, Leandro Trossard doubled the lead in the 23rd, and Jorginho converted a penalty in the 47th minute. Gabriel Martinelli added a goal in the 84th and Kai Havertz finished off the scoring in the 89th minute. Aaron Ramsdale started in goal with Karl Hein subbing on at halftime to share the shutout. Matt Turner was not in the squad for Arsenal.
Meanwhile, Major League Soccer is on the precipice of yet another scope change, two if you’re keeping score at home. It’s not just the debut of Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets, it’s that Inter Miami and the rest of MLS have now switched focus to the Leagues Cup. Games that count against Liga MX have been an on-and-off thing for MLS going back to the SuperLiga era, but now all teams are involved for both leagues. What it could mean for both leagues is still very much the question.
A quick Tell Me About the Leagues Cup. It’s a revamped version of the tournament that’s existed since 2019, but this is the full-participation version with 47 teams involved. It officially begins on July 21, running through August 19, starting with 45 of those 47 teams playing through the group stage. LAFC and Pachuca enter in the round of 32, and the quick math really does mean a group stage to get rid of 15 teams. Those would be the 3rd-place finishers in the 15 groups organized by MLS regions.
With three teams per group, an easy way to pick interesting ones is to focus on the two with more Liga MX clubs than MLS. That would be South 1, where Austin FC needs to get past Mazatlan and Juarez and East 1, with Philadelphia playing Tijuana and Queretaro. We’re only three games into the Apertura season in Liga MX, so a quick look at the standings isn’t going to show very much. For those needing the reminder, Monterrey finished six points clear at the top of the 2023 Clausura table, but it was 5th-place Tigres knocking them out in the semifinals and winning the title over Chivas.
As for MLS, call it round or week, but we’re 26 matchdays, or, you know, call it that, into the season with FC Cincinnati leading in the East by eight points and St Louis top in the West by four points. Are all teams entering the Leagues Cup level on MLS games played? No, with teams between 22 and 25 games played. MLS resumes the day after the Leagues Cup final with 14 games on the schedule.
FRIDAY’S SOCCER TV
ESPN Deportes has the Paderborn vs Bayer Leverkusen friendly at 11:30am. Uruguay’s Primera Division on GolTV: Fenix vs Liverpool at 2pm and La Luz vs Torque at 7pm. WWC on FOX: USA vs Vietnam at 9pm ET.
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Photo by Jose L Argueta – ISIPhotos.com