Eight teams, two leagues, one champion.
The Chicago Fire kick off their Leagues Cup journey on July 23 when Cruz Azul come to town for a quarterfinal clash between historic MLS and Liga MX sides. 2019 marks the first edition of the tournament, an annual single-elimination competition between the top leagues in North America. With three wins separating the Fire from hoisting a trophy, here are three reasons why you should be there Tuesday night at SeatGeek Stadium (Find Tickets).
Cruz Azul has claimed eight league titles throughout its storied history in Mexico, trailing only Club America and Guadalajara. They lifted their most recent piece of silverware on Sunday when they dismantled Necaxa, 4-0, in the SuperCopa MX in Los Angeles.
Internationally, Cruz Azul won the 2013-2014 edition of the Concacaf Champions League by defeating Sporting Kansas City, Tijuana, and Toluca en route to the crown.
Nicknamed "La Maquina" (the machine), Cruz Azul boasts a massive fan base on both sides of the border that will surely help create an electric atmosphere for Tuesday's matchup in Bridgeview.
The likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Nicolás Gaitán, and Aleksander Katai lead the billing for the Fire.
On the flip side, Cruz Azul is led by veteran goalkeeper Jesús Corona, a club legend with more than 300 appearances for La Maquina to go along with 55 caps for the Mexican national team and three trips to the World Cup.
Roberto Alvarado is another Mexican national team player, but his star is just beginning to rise. The 20-year-old midfielder already has 10 international caps to his name, and scored his first two goals for his country in June — against Venezuela in a friendly and against Canada in the Gold Cup.
Chile's Igor Lichnovsky, Argentina's Milton Caraglio, and Spain's Edgar Mendez represent three of Cruz Azul's impact foreign signings. Both Caraglio and Mendez scored in the SuperCopa MX victory.
The winner of Tuesday's clash advances to the semifinal and a date with the winner of LA Galaxy and Tijuana on August 20. Each game in the 2019 Leagues Cup will take place in the United States, with MLS clubs hosting the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds at their home venues.
Should the Fire win twice in the competition, they'd travel to Las Vegas and Sam Boyd Stadium for the final on September 18, where the Club would face whichever team advances from the right side of the bracket: Houston Dynamo, Club America, Real Salt Lake, or Tigres UANL.
The Fire are three wins from a trophy, and the journey starts Tuesday night.