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Coffee with the Caps, Friday September 24

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Tigres UANL v Vancouver Whitecaps - CONCACAF Champions League 2016/17 Photo by Azael Rodriguez/LatinContent via Getty Images

Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all are settling in for one last surge of work before the weekend hits.

Another important match looms for the Caps, as they host FC Dallas tomorrow evening at BC Place in another example of a must-win against a struggling team.

Our attention today, however, will be on the news that the Caps ought to be clearing their schedule for next summer: MLS and Liga MX announced earlier this week they would be throwing out the playbook for Leagues Cup the money grab completely meaningful tournament which was started three years ago between the two leagues.

While Leagues Cup was previously an invitation only affair, the new version will involve every team from both competitions pooled together in a World Cup style tournament. While the current iteration of the cup happens alongside the regular season (leading to a fair amount of rotation from the MLS teams involved), the new format would press pause on both MLS and Liga MX in order to carry out the tournament.

Sweetening the pot are three (3) CONCACAF Champions League berths, though this is a bit ironic because the new tournament is a clear shot across the bow at the CL and it is arguably more compelling for fans. One imagines the prize money will be pretty significant as well, potentially even rivaling what is given out for winning the Supporters’ Shield.

The calculus as best I can tell is that neither league still really wants to merge but they want to do the next best thing. MLS reflected on the success of MLS Is Back from a sporting and media perspective and dreamed up this format. Liga MX basically gets a string of meaningful matches on American soil to reach their Mexican-American fanbases. And because the leagues stop play, it will ostensibly not cause as much wear and tear on players, while also giving a bit fairer of a playing field to determine which league is better (though we all know the answer).

Make no mistake, this is still a massive cash grab. But I think most MLS fans will still be pretty darn intrigued by the idea. You do have to wonder how badly Liga MX will beat their MLS counterparts like a drum. Mexican teams dominate the CCL and that involves the best MLS sides. A team like, well, the Caps could be in for a rough go of things.

But this will have a couple positive effects that I can see. Firstly, it will be interesting for fans of both leagues to have something different to watch. Second, this might prompt MLS to make some structural changes to add depth, given the matches this will add for every team in the league (the scheduling effects for domestic matches are still a bit unclear). And finally, it will perhaps be another push to mid-level teams like the Caps to keep pace with the competition, lest they get absolutely embarrassed.

There are still lots of outstanding questions (Will the league calendar start earlier? What happens when the competition runs up against major international tournaments?) and the long-term effects on the CCL (a competition most serious MLS fans find compelling) could be fatal.

But for now, I’m excited at the prospect of watching another Tigres/Whitecaps smackdown. Maybe it is a sign I’m a masochist but at this point which Caps fan isn’t?

Shameless Self Promotion

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