Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda and midfielder Mo Adams said they like the idea of the new, or expanded, tournaments that will be played between teams from MLS and LIGAMX.
Both leagues, with CONCACAF, announced Wednesday that they were creating a Leagues Cup tournament that will start in 2023 and feature every team from both leagues. CONCACAF also announced that it was expanding the Champions League tournament by 11 club teams in 2024 to include 27 from leagues in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
“This competition (Leagues Cup) is going to bring good international experience for both leagues,” Pineda said. “And I think for at least for us, for Atlanta, it’s very important that we have those international experiences because we want people to know about the brand and what the club is doing. And obviously, it’s going to be a great opportunity to shine and to show what Atlanta can do.”
Adams said it’s great to play more games after COVID-19 disrupted so much of the 2020 season.
“I think we’d rather have more games than less games, but I think it will help soccer over here grow,” he said.
Pineda also appreciates that these tournaments should help both leagues improve.
Both were curious about the potential increase in the number of games. If one MLS team made it to the finals of every tournament in their current forms in 2024, they would play in 61 games in about 43 weeks for the successful teams that advance deeply into the MLS playoffs. Teams that aren’t as successful would play fewer games and possibly have more time off.
“Honestly, if you go around the locker room and asked players would they rather play 61 games or not make it to the final of a tournament, I think they’d say 61, especially the guys who are on the fringe,” Adams said.
Adams added that it would be nice to be compensated for the possible increase in number of games played. There were no mentions in any of the information provided by the three parties that the players would be compensated for the expanded schedule.
Pineda said he is concerned about the physical toll of additional games.
“I feel sorry, at times for the players, the amount of games they have,” Pineda said. “Every year, there’s more and more and more internationals, more tournaments.
“But I would say that it’s also a good opportunity to see other players. We don’t have to see the same players all the time. At times, we can rotate, we can give them the opportunity. I’m big on that. That also creates good competition among the team.”
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Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution