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Leagues Cup 2023 ends with an all-MLS podium

inter miami celebrate (2)

Having brought together all 47 teams from MLS and Liga MX over a month-long tournament, Leagues Cup 2023 has been an unprecedented opportunity to pit the best teams from across North America against each other. 

At the finishing line, it’s three sides from MLS who make up the podium, with the Philadelphia Union convincingly seeing off CF Monterrey, the last Mexican side in the competition, with a 3-0 victory in the third-place play-off. 

A goal from Jesús Bueno after 33 seconds - the earliest across the entire tournament - set the tone for a game that saw Jim Curtin’s men seal third place, as well as a place in next year’s CONCACAF Champions Cup. Had CF Monterrey prevailed, the ticket to the continental tournament would have gone to Club León, the next-best ranked LIGA MX side, given Rayados have already qualified.

The final would pit two MLS Eastern Conference sides against each other in Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF. A hard-fought, end-to-end match that saw goals from Lionel Messi and Fafà Picault would go to penalties, and it was the Florida outfit who came out on top after a dramatic shoot-out.

While they will have had the home advantage in their favour, it’s the MLS side who have had the better of their counterparts south of the border across this summer’s tournament. 

Only two of the eight quarter-finalists were from LIGA MX, in CF Monterrey and Club Querétaro. There were just two all-Mexican clashes in the knockout stages as a whole - Pumas vs. Club Querétaro in the round of 32, and the Clásico Regio between Tigres and CF Monterrey in the round of 16.

The Mexican teams will undoubtedly be hoping to get their own back in future editions - possibly even on home turf. Inter Miami CF head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino has suggested that several games of future Leagues Cup tournaments could be held in Mexico - could more home games help the LIGA MX sides get their own back next time?