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The Leagues Cup is a brand-new tradition debuting this Tuesday, as part of an ongoing effort between MLS and Liga MX to get their teams to play each other. The invitational tournament starts with four MLS teams hosting four Liga MX teams this week, with the winners moving to two semifinals matches on Aug. 20, with locations dependent on who advances, and then a final on Sept. 18 in Las Vegas.
It’ll happen in the heat of the MLS season and at the very start of the Liga MX season, unlike the Concacaf Champions League, which pits MLS teams in preseason against already-in-the-groove Mexican clubs. How might it look when reversed? That’ll be an interesting question for fans even as the tournament will seek to define what it is this year and in the future. (Next year’s edition has already been announced as expanding to 16 teams and having a more formal qualification process.)
Leagues Cup live stream: How to watch MLS vs. Liga MX
The tournament will be broadcast by a combination of networks: On the English-speaking side, it’ll be ESPN+ and ESPN2, whereas en Español, it’s Univision Deportes. With a one-week free trial via all the services listed below, it provides an easy way to watch Leagues Cup matches for free.
- Cost: $4.99 per month or $49.99 for 12 months
- Devices: Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku players and TV, Oculus Go, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Samsung smart TVs, and iOS and Android devices
ESPN+ is a subscription service that extends ESPN’s existing website and app, and it’s essential for soccer fans, in particular, carrying select Leagues Cup matches, as well as Serie A+, MLS, USL, International Champions Cup, Copa America, and FA Cup matches. It encompasses other sporting events as well, including 20 exclusive UFC Fight Night events per year, 180 NHL games, at least one MLB game a day for every day of the season, and a cornucopia of college sports.
ESPN+ also features the network’s sports talk programming, and it features original series starting with the entire 30 for 30 catalog ESPN made its name on. It also unlocks more content and fewer ads on the ESPN site.
2) Sling TV
- Sling TV pricing: $25-$40 per month (40% off first month)
- Sling TV devices: Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Xbox One, Google Chromecast, Oculus Go, Microsoft Edge, and iOS and Android devices
- Sling TV local channels: NBC, Fox (check your local availability here)
Sling TV provides two base channel package options, each priced at $25 per month. Sling Orange includes three ESPN channels, including ESPN2 for Leagues Cup viewing, while Sling Blue includes sports channels like NFL Network, FS1 and FS2, NBCSN, and local channels. If you’re Team “Why Not Both,” Sling Orange + Blue combines the two for just $40 per month. To add beIN SPORTS and maximize your soccer-watching potential, you’ll want to add either Sports Extra: Sling Orange ($5 per month) or Sports Extra: Sling Blue ($10 per month). (The latter also includes NFL RedZone.)
Spanish-speaking viewers have quite a few options. For bilingual families, you might consider the Español: Best of Spanish TV package for either Sling Orange or Sling Blue for 24/7 specialty channel LaLiga TV and beIN SPORTS Connect: Channels 4-9, which features matches from LaLiga, Ligue 1, and Copa del Rey, among others. Both packages cost $5 per month after your free trial. Sling TV Latino is another Spanish-language package for $10 per month, including NBC Universo, History en Español, and—of import to soccer fans—four beIN SPORTS channels. (And choosing Sling TV Latino + Sling Orange for $30 per month gives you access to ESPN Deportes.) For more information, check out our guide to Sling TV channels and our Sling TV review.
- Cost: $44.99 for the first month, $54.99 per month thereafter (after a 7-day free trial)
- FuboTV devices: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Android TV, iOS and Android devices
- FuboTV local channels: Fox, NBC, CBS (check local availability here)
FuboTV is a solid TV streaming service option, whether your tastes run to entertainment (AMC, Syfy, FX), news (MSNBC, CNN), or sports (NBA TV, NFL Network). If you’re a soccer fan, however, it will appear tailor-made for you, streaming the Leagues Cup and carrying a number of soccer-friendly networks, including FS1 for MLS action, 10 beIN SPORTS channels, NBCSN, FS2, UniMás, Champions League action via TNT, and Copa America action via Telemundo and Universo all on tap. If you can’t watch a match live, FuboTV offers a three-day replay for each match and 30 hours of cloud DVR. (Check out the complete FuboTV channels list.)
FuboTV also has bilingual families in mind; each subscription comes with UniMás, Galavisión, NBC Universo, beIN SPORTS, Univision, and Fox Deportes. An extra $7.99 per month will bring you Latino Plus, which includes CNN en Español and TyC Sports among its offerings.
- Cost: $44.99-$79.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- PlayStation Vue devices: PlayStation 3 and 4, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Kodi, iOS and Android devices
- PlayStation Vue local channels: NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS (enter your ZIP code here to check your availability)
PlayStation Vue is a fantastic option for soccer fans who already own a PlayStation console, but this streaming platform is available on a variety of devices. ESPN and FS1, where you’ll find MLS matches, and ESPN2, where you’ll find Leagues Cup matches, are part of the Core package of channels, which offers soccer and other sports programming, and the options increase at the Elite and Ultra levels.
- Cost: $44.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- Hulu devices: Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, and iOS and Android devices
- Hulu local channels: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, the CW (check your local availability here)
Hulu with Live TV includes sports programming among its offerings, including Leagues Cup matches on ESPN and ESPN2, and as a subscriber to the service, you’ll get free access to Hulu’s sizable on-demand library. (Check out the full list of Hulu Live TV channels.)
6) YouTube TV
- Cost: $50 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- YouTube TV devices: Google Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Xbox One, iOS and Android devices
- YouTube TV local channels: NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, the CW (enter your ZIP code here to check your availability)
YouTube TV is a great option for soccer fans, including ESPN and FS1 and broadcasting partnerships with three MLS teams for MLS matches, TNT for Champions League matches, and NBCSN for Premier League matches. (Take a look at the full list of YouTube TV channels here.)
Leagues Cup Opening Round Matches
Tuesday, July 23 (8:30pm ET): Cruz Azul at Chicago Fire, ESPN+/Univision Deportes
Despite some baffling struggles, the Chicago Fire is a team capable of getting out to and holding a lead, with Argentine midfielder Nico Gaitan joining German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger, former Golden Boot-winner Nemanja Nikolic, Serbian playmaker Aleksandar Katai, and one particularly intriguing young U.S. team player, Djordje Mihailovic, all playing key roles. Cruz Azul, coming off a scoreless draw with Necaxa in its 2019-20 Liga MX opener, includes Milton Caraglio, the first-ever Designated Player for the New England Revolution as part of his storied career, and Yoshi Yotun, the Peruvian international who starred at Orlando City before moving to Mexico.
Tuesday, July 23 (11pm ET): Club Tijuana at LA Galaxy, ESPN/Univision Deportes
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the focal point for both Galaxy fans and detractors, and he’s a big reason the team’s poised to return to the playoffs. Jona dos Santos and Uriel Antuna, fresh off helping Mexico to a Gold Cup win, have also contributed to Galaxy successes this season. The Tijuana team they’ll face, with a fan base that draws from San Diego as well as its home city, includes Ecuadorian national Miller Bolaños and former Houston Dynamo striker Erick Torres. The Xolos are coached by Oscar Pareja, who built FC Dallas into a solid team with a stellar academy before leaving MLS for Liga MX.
Wednesday, July 24 (8:30pm ET): Club America at Houston Dynamo, ESPN+/Univision Deportes
Club America is one of Mexico’s most storied franchises, and opened its Apertura campaign on Saturday with a resounding 4-2 win over Monterrey, with Chilean striker Nicolas Castillo scoring twice. Las Águilas will face a Houston team that features two young stars who may be playing in Europe by season’s end—Colombian striker Mauro Manotas and Honduran winger Alberth Elis. Houston boasts among the most diverse rosters in MLS, and they’ve been formidable at home in recent years.
Wednesday, July 24 (11pm ET): Tigres UANL at Real Salt Lake, ESPN+/Univision Deportes
Tigres is one of Liga MX’s hottest teams in recent years, led by French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac, Chilean attacker Eduardo Vargas, and Ecuadorian stalwart Enner Valencia. The 2019 Concacaf Champions League finalists will play a Real Salt Lake team that’s been willing to play its young up-and-coming stars. Though Designated Players Albert Rusnak and Jefferson Savarino have been essential to the team’s success, outspoken coach Mike Petke has also turned to Homegrown players like Corey Baird and Sebastian Saucedo to contribute to a stellar home record and a playoff-qualifying run.
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Phil West is a sports reporter and the author of two books on soccer, ‘The United States of Soccer,’ and ‘I Believe That We Will Win,’ both from The Overlook Press. His work has appeared most recently in MLSSoccer.com, Pro Soccer USA, Texas Highways, and Howler. Based in Austin, he is also a lecturer in the Writing Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.