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MLS chief Garber: No plans to stage Leagues Cup matches in Mexico

Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Leagues Cup will continue to be played only in the United States and Canada, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber told reporters, after complaints from some Mexican clubs about playing all games on the road.

The new month long tournament, which involved all top flight clubs from MLS and Mexico's Liga MX, concluded on Saturday with Lionel Messi's Inter Miami beating Nashville after a penalty shoot-out.

The arrival of Messi coincided with the start of the tournament and with both leagues pausing their domestic competition, the first edition captured the imagination of North American fans.

But with all MLS teams enjoying home field advantage against Mexican opponents, there have been complaints from some in Liga MX about the amount of travel and the unfairness of the arrangement.

Asked whether the tournament, which follows the World Cup format of a group stage followed by knockout games, would continue to be held only in MLS venues, Garber said: "I think so...we'll continue to look at those games being here but I've learned after all these years, never say never to anything".

Garber said he wanted to the competition to remain different to the regional CONCACAF Champions Cup which takes the form of classic home and away ties.

"I don't think it should compete with the Champions Cup and I think once you start having home and away it starts to look like that. I am not sure if that's in the best interest of the two leagues and our confederation (CONCACAF)," he said.

"But in the off-season we will sit down together and look at everything."

CONCACAF endorsed the league and provided neutral referees for the games and the tournament provided three qualifying places for next season's Champions Cup.

Garber said there were clear benefits for Liga MX clubs in playing north of their border, in territories where there are huge numbers of Mexican-American fans and suggested the Liga MX clubs should be wary of criticizing the competition.

Joint venture

"We worked really hard to ensure that our clubs knew that this was a tournament that was a joint venture. We jointly own this tournament (with Liga MX).

"So if we do things that are gonna belittle the tournament, it affects our partnership. We do things that are gonna grow the tournament, it benefits the partnership.

"I think economically, it certainly makes sense to have it here in the United States. But I think it's a great opportunity for Liga MX clubs to be able to provide their fans who are living in the United States an opportunity to see all their teams, as opposed to two or three teams that are here summer after summer.

So I think there's no reason to look at moving it, but...let's take a step back when it's all over and just look at everything," he said.

The MLS head wouldn't rule out having guest teams from other countries feature in the competition at some time but said there had been no discussions about that.

European and South American clubs frequently play friendly games in the USA, but Garber said his focus was on taking advantage of the boom interest of the game ahead of the 2026 World Cup in the region.

"The rest of the world has every opportunity to build their business here in the United States but the investors in Major League Soccer have put billions and billions of dollars into building this market and they should be able to think about ways to capitalize on that investment.

"Are there ways for us to be thinking about expanding the (Leagues Cup) idea? Sure, but I'll be clear that we have had no formal discussions about that," he said.

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