Leagues Cup 2023 Matchday 3 Recap


New York City FC were unable to turn their middling spell of form around for their Leagues Cup opener. Instead, it was Atlas FC who came out on top in the East 3 group opening match-up on a battered pitch at Citi Field. The home side came close to opening the scoring early on, as forward Talles Magno carved out a chance with some quick feet in the box before seeing his effort parried away.

The next chance would fall to Atlas FC minutes later, and the LIGA MX side would make no mistake. An outswinging corner found Aldo Rocha on the edge of the box, and the midfielder volleyed in an emphatic strike. NYCFC would be on the front foot for the rest of the game, but chances were few and far between. 

The MLS side thought they had clinched a late equalizer through substitute Justin Haak, but the US international was eventually ruled offside after a long check. Having started their Leagues Cup campaign with a loss, NYCFC will be looking to make amends next Wednesday when they host Toronto FC at Red Bull Arena, with a play-off spot already on the line.

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FC Cincinnati took the extra point and extended their unbeaten home run following a penalty shoot-out after an entertaining 3-3 draw with Sporing Kansas. It was the away side that struck first, a cross from Shelton was diverted by Cincinnati defender Haggland into his own net for the opener.

Kansas then doubled the lead in the 12th minute through a powerful defender Rosero from a set piece. The away side were looking good value for their advantage, but the 29th minute saw a moment of madness from striker Alan Pulido who was sent-off for a wild headbutt on Yerson Mosquera near the sidelines.

Only five minutes later saw a header from defender Ian Murphy deflect off keeper John Pulskamp for another own goal before the game was halted due to the stormy weather conditions brewing in Ohio. After the delay, Pulskamp made up for his error with a save to keep Kansas ahead before the half-time whistle. 

The home side then went level, Acosta picking up the ball following an error simply squaring it to Brandon Vasquez for the tap-in. In the 67th minute, a penalty was given to Sporting Kansas City after the ball was handled in the box. Kinda dispatched it emphatically to put the away side back ahead 3-2. Whilst Cincinnati piled on the pressure for the rest of the half, it wasn’t until the 95th minute that they got their chance to make it level. Again a handball was given as a penalty - this time to the home side. Luciano Acosta steps up as captain and dispatches it with confidence to take the game to penalties.

Sporting KC defender Rémi Walter was the first to blink in the shootout, skying his effort from 12 yards. The follow-up by fellow centre-back Fontàs failed to fool the keeper, as Cincinnati came away with the extra point and extended their unbeaten run at home to 16 matches.


Nashville got the three points in their opener at home, in a competitive game that ultimately changed with Hany Mukhtur’s entry onto the field in the second half. Colorado Rapids were lively in the first 45, with some positive play and chances created.

However, it wasn’t until the 57th minute that Mukhtur opened the scoring for Nashville, profiting off a mistake from the Colorado defense before being on call to tap in a well-worked return ball from McCarty. Mukhtur was then on call again to set up a ball for midfielder Jacob Shaffelburg to double the lead in the 65th minute.

Colorado Rapids then pulled one back through Andrew Gutman in the 80th minute to give the away side a fighting chance in the game. They pushed in the latter stages and tested the keeper, but it was ultimately Nashville who rode out the pressure and came away with the three points.


Despite being down a man for an hour, Minnesota United FC still rolled over Club Puebla, 4-0, to earn three points in their Leagues Cup 2023 opener.

With the two clubs at event strength, Minnesota United midfielder Bongokule Hlongwane opened the scoring with an impressive 50-plus-yard dribble down the right side of the pitch before beating the goalkeeper to the far left side of the net to make it 1-0 in the 24th minute. Just six minutes later, Minnesota United went down a man when Michael Boxall earned a straight red card.

Down to ten men, the Minnesota attack got even more dangerous. Hlongwane scored his second goal in the 51st minute, a header assisted by Emanuel Reynoso. Eight minutes later, Reynoso scored his own goal to put Minnesota United up, 3-0.

But the highlight-reel worthy goal came in the 65th minute. Reynoso, from about ten yards outside of the box, curled a free kick inside the upper near right corner to earn a brace and give his club a 4-0 win.

After a four-hour delay due to the inclement weather in Ohio, the long-awaited duel between Columbus Crew and St. Louis City SC was played without problems. Both teams put on a show which ended with a Crew win wasn’t sealed until the last moment. The star of the night Argentinian-born and Armenian national team member Lucas Zelarayán. With his passing and a spectacular free-kick goal, he led his team to victory in his Leagues Cup 2023 debut

In the 11th minute, the offensive midfielder converted a goal that opened the score; the in the 29th minute, Camilo Hernández converted a penalty to double Columbus’ advantage. St. Louis cut the deficit in half in the 85th minute, forcing a Columbus own goal from Jacen Russell-Rowe. St. Louis pushed for the equalizer to force penalties until the very last moment, but ultimately things went Columbus’ way.