While it’s nice to think about an MLS-Liga MX merger down the road, it doesn’t sound like such an arrangement is a priority for any MLS owners or Commissioner Don Garber.
By all accounts the 2021 MLS All-Star Game, featuring a lineup of MLS All-Stars facing off against Liga MX All-Stars at Banc of California Stadium, was a huge success. With a capacity crowd, plenty of flash and a MLS win on a penalty shootout, 3-2, it was a great showcase for the league and the level of play in MLS. Generally speaking, Liga MX is considered to feature a higher skill level, so the tie and ultimate shootout was good news for MLS.
So with the feeling that parity is an achievable goal, the question is whether there will be a formal MLS-Liga MX merger in the future. Some owners on both sides of the fence want it: Liga MX teams are a solid draw in the United States, continental and national competitions featuring the United States and Mexico draw well (the CONCACAF championship at Las Vegas’s Allegiant Stadium was highly entertaining), and the Mexico National Team is a solid draw, playing more games in the U.S. than in Mexico.
So more play between teams representing each country is the next logical progression. But past that, a more formal arrangement may not come–after all, on many levels, MLS and Liga MX also competitors, especially on the talent front. Liga MX may see the United States as a market ripe for expansion; MLS may not necessarily see it that way. Talk of. merger, therefore, may be a nice thought, but destined never to happen because of the economics of the game. From The New York Times:
Wouldn’t a single league made up of the best clubs across North America improve the level of play? Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, stoked such speculation earlier this year when he said such a league could be “the best league in the world.”
[Adam] Hanauer, the Sounders owner, was happy to entertain the question, but he also urged caution. The first time anybody can remember multiple owners from M.L.S. and Liga MX convening together, he said, was in February 2020. That meeting took place at Hanauer’s house in Cabo San Lucas, just before the pandemic shut things down.
“It is a ‘walk before we run’ answer,” he said, adding, “We are at the very early stages of beginning to understand each other and get to know each other.”
Image courtesy LAFC.