When it comes to who’s most likely to win MLS’ Leagues Cup, the math has been done

When it comes to who’s most likely to win MLS’ Leagues Cup, the math has been done

Earlier this month, MLS and Liga MX revealed the group stage assignments for the 2024 Leagues Cup. Just like last year, 47 teams from both Major League Soccer and Liga MX will compete in the second edition of the tournament, which will begin on July 26 with the group stage.

Club América, by virtue of being the top Liga MX team by aggregate points, and the Columbus Crew, the 2023 MLS Cup champion, both earned a bye through the group stage, leaving the other 45 teams split into 15 groups, 7 in the East and 8 in the West.

So, with the groups set, which MLS teams have the best path to emerging from the group and into the Round of 32? Sounder At Heart’s Jeremiah Oshan broke down the groups from a rankings perspective, seeing how the numbers stack up:

Because I’m a nerd, I ranked the Leagues Cup groups in terms of difficulty. I took each club’s Leagues Cup’s ranking and Concacaf Club ranking, then averaged those. By that equation, West 3 is the softest and East 3 is the toughest. Sounders have second softest. pic.twitter.com/KmpIBqvUQB

— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) January 31, 2024

It first helps to understand how the pots were drawn. The teams were divided into 3 pots, with a team taken from each to form the groups.

Next, you apply Oshan’s rankings list with the various groups.

I failed to do East 7, but they came in as the third easiest group.

— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) February 1, 2024

In the West 3 group, FC Dallas and St. Louis City both have a great chance of getting out of the group against FC Juarez, one of the lowest ranked teams. St. Louis City is ready to run it back after last year’s successful debut that saw them finish as the top team in the Western Conference, while FC Dallas should be able to pick off points from Juarez and get to the Round of 32.

LAFC is rebuilding with some new stars in the mix, but the club has built its roster for success in major tournaments. They should be the favorites in West 7 when they face the Vancouver Whitecaps and Club Tijuana, with new goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as the anchor and especially if they can find a way to keep Denis Bouanga happy in black.

Atlanta United is set up to be the class of East 7, with their roster of young stars poised to get back on track in 2024. D.C. United and Santos Laguna are also in the group, but Atlanta is the team that should win the group and move onto the knockout stage. With Thiago Almada on top of his game and Giorgos Giakoumakis poised to take his game to an even higher level, Atlanta enters 2024 thinking they can make some moves to add this trophy to their case.

The Philadelphia Union really enjoy these knockout style tournaments, and their roster has no fear in facing Liga MX teams. In East 4 alongside Charlotte FC and Cruz Azul, the Union have probably the best goalkeeper in all of Concacaf in Andre Blake. If he’s on his game, Philadelphia will only need to focus on the scoring, and they have that in bunches.

Syndication: The Enquirer

Union goalkeeper Andre Blake is arguably the best at his position in all of CONCACAF play.
Albert Cesare / USA TODAY NETWORK

Orlando City has steadily moved up the ranks and they could do some damage in the group stage. They are paired with CF Montreal and Atlético de San Luiz in East 2, and they have brought in some great experience in Nico Lodeiro to help the attack even further.

The New England Revolution and Nashville SC both have the inside track in East 5 due to the fact that they have been grouped with Mazatlán FC. Mazatlán is the bottom team in the Leagues Cup rankings, which means the Revs and Nashville each have to be thinking that they need to grab max points when they take the field against the Liga MX side.

The Leagues Cup is still several months away, but now that the groups are released, teams can start to plan out their rotations so that they can get serious for the 2nd edition of the tournament. It will provide some summer excitement as MLS teams will hope to keep the trophy in the United States once again.

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