On Wednesday, New York City FC, Major League Soccer, and Liga MX released most of the details for the 2024 edition of the Leagues Cup. The Pigeons exited last year against the New York Red Bulls during the Round of 32. Thankfully, in a poor season, the supporters did witness the 5-0 thrashing against Toronto FC, so they did get a win during the summer tournament.
This year, the event is mostly the same compared to 2023. There are some changes though. The Leagues Cup will use a tiered ranking system based on the previous year. Each tier will have 15 teams, and each group in the tournament will have one team per tier. So, the three teams per group will remain the same, but it will not be entirely location-based. Plus, the MLS and Liga MX champions will get a bye to the Round of 32.
However, the Pigeons would not face a club on the West Coast, for groups are divided into Western and Eastern groups. Notably, the Bronx side is considered East 1. But who is in the group?
The Leagues Cup details for NYCFC
NYCFC had the fortune of drawing the Supporters' Shield winners, FC Cincinnati, in their group. Then, they will also face Liga MX side Querétaro F.C. during the group stage. The Mexican side only won five games between both the Apertura and Clausura in 2023. Since 30 of the 45 teams will move on, if one bases a prediction on the previous year, then NYCFC has a strong chance of moving on to the knockout stage.
The knockout stage will remain the same, where teams are placed into a fixed bracket and go from there. It is unknown whether the bracket will be formatted based on the tier rankings or location. In addition, there will be no draws or extra time. If a game is tied after 90 minutes, then the dueling sides will enter a penalty kick shootout. The winner of the shootout will earn two points.
Meanwhile, fans are still waiting on locations and the schedule. The Leagues Cup will take place from July 26 through August 25. As a reminder, MLS will be on a break for the entirety of the tournament, except for the third-place and finals matches. It can be assumed that NYCFC will have to travel to Cincinnati since they are the top team in the group. Moreover, one would think the group stage will occur during the first week.
Finally, all games will be available on the MLS Season Pass via Apple TV. Truthfully, it is a wasted opportunity to not let regular TV channels air the majority of the matches. It would expose people to MLS and Liga MX. The move to Apple TV has made it difficult to grow MLS naturally, for not every casual fan can afford the streaming service.
Nonetheless, it should be another exciting summer. New York City FC might have a chance to compete this year once a few more signings are made. Of course, there are reservations about Nick Cushing and whether he can lead this team. At the same time, struggles during the regular season could be washed away during a summer tournament.