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What would a Liga MX-MLS merger look like?

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There’s a couple scenarios that could work.

SOCCER: MAR 11 Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinal - New York City FC v Tigres UANL Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Over the past few weeks, rumors have reheated about the possibility of a merger between Major League Soccer and Liga MX. Presumably, the merger would occur in the next few years, and that speculation heightened when Liga MX announced that they would be suspending promotion and relegation for the next 5 years. That has only prompted many to discuss how a combined super league would be formatted and whether one would be created by the time the United States, Mexico, and Canada host the 2026 World Cup.

To break down what formats would be possible, you’d would have to determine how each league would operate and send teams to the super league. In 2022, MLS will have 30 total teams, while Liga MX will be at their current number of 18 teams:

MLS (30) - New England Revolution, Montreal Impact, New York Red Bulls, New York City FC, Philadelphia Union, D.C. United, Columbus Crew SC, Toronto FC, Chicago Fire, Nashville SC, Atlanta United, Orlando City, Inter Miami, FC Cincinnati, Minnesota United, Sporting Kansas City, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake, Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy, Los Angeles Football Club, Charlotte, Austin, St. Louis, Sacramento Republic

Liga MX (18) - Santos Laguna, Leon, UANL, Querétaro, Necaxa, America, Morelia, Monterrey, Pachuca, Guadalajara, TijuanaCruz Azul, UNAM, Atlas, Atletico San Luis, Juarez, Toluca, Puebla

If the leagues decide to stick with just those 48 teams, they could do a 3-tiered set of super leagues, where each division would consist of 10 teams from MLS and 6 from Liga MX. With 16-team divisions, each team could play the others twice (home and away) for a total of 30 matches. The top 2 teams in Divisions 2 and 3 would be automatically promoted, while the bottom 2 in Divisions 1 and 2 would be relegated. Teams 3-6 in Divisions 2 and 3 could undergo a promotion playoffs like they see in England, with the winner being promoted. Or, you can take that winner and put them against the 16th place team from the higher division and they can have a relegation playoff similar to Germany. The top division can even have a playoff if they want among the top 6-7 teams to crown a champion.

They could also prefer just 2 divisions with 20 teams in the top division and 28 in the lower division, split into conferences. There would be a playoff to determine the winner of both the lower division and who would be promoted and relegated between the divisions.

Now, there’s also talk that MLS and Liga MX want to just send some teams to the North American super league, leaving the rest of their teams to compete in MLS and Liga MX. Taking 10 MLS teams and 8 Liga MX teams to form a super league of 18 teams would leave 20 teams to compete in MLS and 10 teams in Liga MX. Mexico would have to find 8-10 more teams.

They could consider some of the cities high in population that already have teams (like Culiacán, home of Dorados de Sinaloa, or Hermosillo, home of Cimarrones de Sonora), they can consider some cities that have a high population but would need a team to be created (Chihuahua), or they could go for cities that are tourist attractions that are also big (Acapulco or Cancún). In any case, they would need to bring more teams onboard to create a system that involves a super league with MLS and Liga MX remaining intact to have their own competitions.

If the two leagues go that route, you could see a super league of 18 teams (10 from MLS, 8 from Liga MX), while the remaining 20 MLS teams have their own league and Liga MX also has a league of 18 teams. The top 2 finishers in MLS and Liga MX would replace the bottom two MLS and Liga MX teams in the super league. Another way to make it interesting is that only the winner of MLS and Liga MX are guaranteed promotion to the super league, while 2nd and 3rd place in each league join a relegation playoff with the 2nd and 3rd worst from the super league to see who will be in the super league the following year.

The good thing for all of these options is that it will allow for playoffs and other competitions while also giving teams something to shoot for in winning their domestic league and moving to the super league. It will also for playoffs up and down the leagues, so all teams will not have long layoffs and there’s always something to play for throughout the year. Whether they maintain the current MLS schedule of February to October or move to the Apertura/Clausura format that Liga MX has, there will be plenty of calendar to play matches and have lots of competition between the two leagues. Of course, all of this would require FIFA approval as well as figuring out how slots for CONCACAF Champions League would be divided among the leagues.

What do you think of a Liga MX merger with MLS? How would it work best in your mind? Continue the discussion in the comments.