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Report: Liga MX, MLS could form combined league after 2026 World Cup


A combined league featuring teams from the United States, Mexico, and Canada could emerge following the 2026 World Cup.

According to Reuters, Liga MX and MLS have discussed the possibility of combining their leagues following the World Cup that the United States, Mexico, and Canada will host.

“It’s a possibility, a North American league,” Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla told reporters at the Leaders summit at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium. “We have to determine how and see the pros and cons, but I think that’s a way to grow and to compete again.

“If we can make a World Cup then we can make a North American league or a North American Cup. The main idea is that we have to grow together to compete. If not, there is only going to be the rich guys in Europe and the rest of the world.”

Liga MX is the most watched soccer league in the United States despite competition from MLS and European top flights. Additionally, Mexican matches often generate more raw attendance than MLS matches. Overall, revenues for MLS and Liga MX are dwarfed by those of top leagues across Europe, even among North American audiences.

Back in March, Liga MX and MLS announced a partnership that began with the first ever Campeones Cup. Tigres UANL defeated Toronto FC 3-1 at BMO Field on September 19 in the first edition of the annual event.

There have also been discussions about creating an All-Star Game between the two leagues.

Mexican teams have historically dominated any formal competition between the two leagues. Liga MX clubs have won all ten editions of the Concacaf Champions League, including three victories over MLS teams in the final. Last May, Chivas de Guadalajara defeated Toronto FC in penalties to win their first continental title in the Champions League era.


  1. Personally I think it’s going to happen, just a matter of “when” and “how”.

    Liga MX has players and massive, widespread fan support and national appeal in Mexico. Yes, I know Liga MX payrolls are currently bigger…but c’mon, in terms of money ceiling America is massively ahead.

    MLS has money – or at least money potential – stadia infrastructure…and needs more widespread fan support, and more brand recognition. Mexican recognition counts too. Ask Manchester United. They market EVERYWHERE.

    Marrying the two is natural, props both up, and instantly makes games twice as significant and twice as interesting. C’mon…would you rather see an ATL vs Tigres deathmatch in front of 60K+ (with another million or so watching on TV) or watch Atlanta steamroll a hapless Colorado team 5-0 again in front of maybe 8K fans in Denver?

    Of course it’s going to happen.

  2. I think this is one of those ideas where the concept is good, but it will prove to be too difficult to work out the details and iron out the differences to the satisfaction of all parties. Here’s just one–with MLS continuing to add franchises/teams, you could end up with a super league of 50 teams or more. How do you work out any schedule that is equitable and doable within a typical soccer season. And the travel would be even more horrendous than it is now.

    • I don’t think every team in MLS would join. My hunch would be that it could probably be structured like the EPL. So the Premiere league would be made of the biggest markets in MLS and the biggest teams in Liga MX, followed by a Division 1 league made of the smaller US, Canadian and Mexican markets. Most likely paves the way for promotion/relegation.

      Here’s what my guess it would look like in an 18 teams Premiere League structure:

      Premiere League

      Club America
      Cruz Azul
      Tigres UANL
      LA Galaxy
      Los Angeles FC
      NY RedBulls
      New York City FC
      Orlando City
      Seattle Sounders
      Houston Dynamo
      Toronto FC
      Montreal Impact
      Vancouver Whitecaps

      • This is a MX person proposing it and I think you can safely assume he’d expect a high amount of what he would likely see as better funded/attended/playing MX teams. They would not do this from fear, they would go from greed. So they are going to take the handful of well funded and attended MLS teams who are better financially and on the field than the worst of MX.

        Houston makes sense as a market but the team is the cheapest in MLS on payroll and only intermittently competitive.

    • Well for starters, this wouldn’t be MLS, this would be a whole new league. The teams in the old leagues would still exist but they would probably have to go to a promotion/relegation model.

      • Why would they have to do pro/rel if the best teams left? If anything I’d think it would be expansion to refill followed by a few years of consolidation to settle down. The idea that we’d respond to losing our best teams on the plane by opening the plane doors midflight strikes me as crazed.

  3. I could see something where they keep the regular season somewhat regionally localized, with some inter conference/country matches thrown in and then having the playoffs feature teams from all three countries.

    • Nah I think the whole point is like if 2026 is a US bid dressed up as regional, this would be a MX league with a sprinkling of US and Canada, dressed up as tri-national. If you want a sprinkling of US-MX playoffs CCL suffices, and hasn’t motivated our fans and Eurosnobs to change TV habits. They’d be chasing regular fixtures of the sort they’d hope would motivate snobs to watch MX soccer. Chivas-Toronto. Monterrey-LA. How is leaving the teams in their regular season domestic scenes going to make them more money.

      • Similar to how the NFL is set up. There are two conferences with multiple divisions that play games during the season within the conference/division plus games against teams from the other conference. This mega league could split the countries into conferences.

    • this scheme actually sounds it’s a result of feelings of frustration from the performance of CCL. I think a better solution would be to have a more complex CCL scenario of 24 teams at the group stage made up of mostly of Liga MX/MLS, a couple of Costa Rica league teams and 2 or 3 other teams from Caribbean/Central America. Why 2 or 3 teams from the rest of the region? Because ligamx/mls would orchestrate high UEFA-type infrastructure standards on CCL. MLS league play could be reduced to 32 games.

      • Once you make champions leagues the playpen of the elite, the elite tend to think they could do a better job and make more money by just setting up their own event. The side benefit is that if it’s an established league and not a tournament then qualification isn’t required. No matter how bad a year ManU or Monterrey has, they are “in” the Super League. And they don’t have to play “annoying” little regional round fixtures in Ukraine or Trinidad, against teams the overdog fanboys don’t care about. To me half the fun is seeing some random small country team play a bigger team, and I wish UEFACL had more year to year competitive variety.

  4. I would be piissed if I was a club like FC Cincinnati, Inter Miami and Nashville or any other potential MLS expansion team that has paid/will pay hundreds of millions of dollars and they aren’t guaranteed anything past 2026. It just don’t see how this will all shake out to the benefit of all parties. MLS needs to worry about growing its league. Liga MX needs to worry about growing its league. I could be totally wrong and making this up but this screams of LIga MX seeing the light they could be passed over by MLS in the next 5-8 years and wanting to get in on the action without getting left behind. It smells like a dream of Liga MX execs and not one shared by MLS excess.

    • I think it would be less about fear of us and more about the usual suspects from MX smelling a transnational opportunity to jettison the worst several MX teams like BUAP or Veracruz — the ones who don’t win the league ever or play in CCL — in favor of teams like Seattle, LA, and Toronto. They can then try and convert those fans to watching Mexican teams play, and chase the Eurosnobs not interested in MX or MLS right now. It would be about money and tapping our market for their use. I think they’d giggle at the idea we’re catching theire best and think something more like, our best are better funded, attended, and on the field than their worst.

  5. Of course this makes sense and is a future idea, really hats off to the forward thinking people if it happens. Hanging on to ideas that aren’t even that old i.e. country/city sports teams in order to forego increased exposure, revenue, talent and excitement makes no sense to me. Borders are a prehistoric and animalistic way of dividing people. Let’s have sport do what it was supposed to do galvanize and bring people together not just from the suburbs of the USA but all over this damn continent

    • And let’s eliminate teams, they are very divisive. One color uniform for all, kick the ball around on the field and make sure everyone one touches it an equal number of times. And those poor guys on the bench who are denied a chance to play, get them on the field to.
      Equality – Fairness – Social Justice

  6. Worth looking at. Without knowing the details hard to say if I would love it, like it, or hate it.
    The salary cap would go up! I have a feeling that Mexico sees the handwriting on the wall.

    US will be the top league and it won’t be that long coming either. Maybe the parity teams don’t pass Real Madrid, but no one else has for 3 years running now either.

    So what does Mexico offer, a large fans base of crazy soccer fans. Some of which now have descendants in the US.

    • I take this as like the NASL tack from a different place. Mexico doesn’t have a cap. I don’t think an ambitious transnational league would be long on parity notions, either. So my guess, there would be no cap. In practice, the way that sounds is like the opposite of the world cup bid. if the bid is mostly American with a smattering of others, this would probably be mostly Mexican with a handful of the few well funded and attended teams in MLS both sides of our border, creme them off. Seattle, Toronto, those type teams.

      • Well like I said, it was short on details.
        I am a huge pass on your version of their merger ideas. MLS doesn’t probably need Liga MX to make the biggest/best league in the world, it just makes it easier to get there with Mexican-Americans immediately watching MLS.

        Eliminating the salary cap, just a dumb idea, even if it works in this scenario probably better than any place in the world. Pass. We don’t need LA, NY and Club America winning every year when the money starts rolling in.

      • I am not pushing no cap, I think that’s dumb and counter where the soccer world is going. I am just telling you that when MX comes to MLS with this idea, and they have no cap, they are not asking for one to be put in place in the process. The idea instead will be to recruit MLS teams with the attendance and payrolls to compete at their sporting and financial level. I’m not advocating it, I am just telling you the way this plays out. MX would not accept a cap to try this.

    • I’d think a “Cup” would have the best qualified teams at that time, but not pro/rel since it’s just an annual tournament. I’d think a “League” would not be pro/rel but instead be a snatch and grab by the elite teams of each league chasing more money. Not unlike the stability MLS or US pro leagues seek, I’d think they would want a stable set of teams to trade upon. I also don’t see the constituency for it, MLS is not pro-rel, and Mexico’s pro-rel is a grudging long term multi season thing.

      I see the “League” idea in the spirit of European Super League ideas that have preceded it, where Champions League type teams try to break away. The idea to such concepts is not that those teams have to earn it every year or stay above a certain spot to stay up. To the contrary, the whole idea is to undercut the regional, quasi-public Champions League with your own private competition where you are guaranteed to participate and not subject to the odd off year, and can perhaps negotiate for a larger cut of the proceeds. FIFA has already said they wouldn’t permit the league. At which point you get into how far are the teams willing to push it, to smash regional competitions, to fight with FIFA, do you care if the whole enterprise conventionally understood comes down.

  7. Mexico and Canada only contributed 6 potential hosts of 23. If this is a power play on that basis, I think we should dictate terms, not the other way around.

    A standalone super league would never past legal muster. FIFA has pooh-poohed similar super league ideas for Europe in favor of national leagues. To the extent we are talking about a literal transnational premier league that is the main competition and not a sideshow.

    I also don’t see how a transnational league benefits a country with only a handful of well funded and attended teams who have the expensive star players. You’d likely lose those teams from MLS but then the vast majority of the teams would still be here. To me the success of US Soccer has more to do with overall health and improvement and not a few super teams.

    As a sideshow, North American Cup might be interesting in an elaborate 3 country open field concept. I’d rather be playing across a bunch of countries’ different teams than just modest USOC. But North American Cup, in a narrow version, has been done before, Superliga. Meh. The more cynical version would be that every other team in the region qualifies through subregional entities, CFU, UNCAF. There quietly is a North American Football Union that hasn’t really been used recently, GC teams make it automatically, and CCL allocates the slots beforehand. We could lose the automatic slots and then go in some subregion with Mexico and Canada and you earn what slots you get representing North America. I kind of prefer 4 USA plus 1 Canada automatic versus winner’s slots.

  8. Making MX our regular all star game would actually be a come down. I also think the current event, in staying power, benefits from variety. If it was the same two leagues each time I think it might be initially compelling to see all their best players but over time people would get sick of the same thing each year.


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