Allegiant Stadium, home of NFL American football franchise the Las Vegas Raiders, has further enhanced its status as a soccer host by securing a two-year deal to stage the final of the Leagues Cup competition.

The fledgling tournament, a joint venture between Major League Soccer (MLS) and Liga MX, will see its 2021 final played at Allegiant Stadium on September 22. The announcement continues the event’s connection to Vegas as the inaugural 2019 final ended in Cruz Azul defeating Tigres UANL in an all-Liga MX affair at Sam Boyd Stadium.

After the 2020 tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19, the Leagues Cup will return this year with Tigres, Pumas, León and Santos Laguna set to feature for Liga MX, while Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City SC, Seattle Sounders, and New York City FC will represent MLS.

The 2021 tournament, to be played in its entirety in the US, is scheduled to begin on August 10 with quarter-final matches. The semi-finals are slated for September 14-15, before the competition heads to Las Vegas for the final.

Beyond the rivalry between the clubs, Leagues Cup has taken on an increased focus for both MLS and Liga MX teams. The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) recently announced that Leagues Cup will have a qualifying slot to its Champions League, starting with the competition’s new format in 2023.

Leagues Cup is part of a larger partnership between MLS and Liga MX, with a focus on sharing best practices and on being a force for positive change in the local communities of both leagues. There is continuing talk that the two leagues could eventually merge ahead of the staging of the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the US, Mexico and Canada.

For Allegiant Stadium, the award of the Leagues Cup final comes with the venue in April landing hosting rights to the final of CONCACAF’s 2021 Gold Cup. The tournament is currently taking place in the US, with Vegas to host the final on August 1.

“As the partnership between MLS and Liga MX continues to grow in the coming years and demonstrate what is possible between our two leagues, the passionate soccer market of Las Vegas is the perfect host for the Leagues Cup final in 2021 and 2022,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber.

“The fans of the region have proven their love of the sport throughout the years, including a sellout of the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup final. We look forward to playing Leagues Cup at Allegiant Stadium, an incredible venue that has quickly become a destination for world-class soccer events.”

Mikel Arriola, Liga MX executive president, added: “For Liga MX, Leagues Cup represents a very important step in our internationalisation project. Sports competition against MLS and the possibility of reaching our great fans in the United States are a great opportunity for our institution and our clubs.

“Additionally, the fact that the city of Las Vegas and its spectacular new stadium are hosting the grand final is an extra motivation to fight on the pitch for a chance to be in the championship game and continue making history with a new Leagues Cup title.”

Image: MLS