Sporting Kansas City will take on FC Cincinnati and Chivas de Guadalajara in the upcoming, expanded edition of Leagues Cup, seeing forward Alan Pulido confront his former Liga MX team.
The 2023 tournament will see 15 groups with Major League Soccer and Liga MX teams compete in a ‘World Cup-style’ competition from July 21 to August 19. For the first time ever, all teams from both leagues will compete in the month-long event.
Sporting KC was sorted into Central Group 3, determined by the team’s matching region and their position in the 2022 Supporters’ Shield standings. Liga MX teams were ranked by the aggregate 2022 table, and placed into the groups through reverse order so that the number 1 team would be placed with the number 15 side from the American league.
Prior to the group reveal, Pulido expressed his excitement over the upcoming tournament.
“I already know Liga MX, I grew up there and played for a long time. Facing up against teammates who at the time have shared time in the national team or in teams is nice, it makes me happy but also very anxious,” he said exclusively to 90min.
But stakes were raised upon learning who his competitors would be.
“I’m looking forward to the game. I’m excited to play against Chivas, the team where I achieved important things both as a group and as an individual. I’m still focused on my recovery, but the game against Chivas motivates me to come back and be able to play.”
Pulido first joined Chivas in 2016, quickly becoming one of the most influential figures on the roster. He inspired the team to the 2017 Liga MX Clausura title and became one of two leading goalscorers of the 2019 Apertura, before departing for Sporting Kansas City in December 2019.
Despite early success, his time in Major League Soccer has been plagued by injury. He’s been out for almost a year, after suffering an ACL tear while on international duty with the Mexican national team.
But the player is slated to make his long-awaited return in 2023.
“With the way he’s progressing, Alan’s looking to be ready for the first game of the season. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I will play him,” said Sporting Kansas City head coach and sporting director Peter Vermes.
Pulido and SKC kick off the 2023 MLS campaign on February 25 when facing the Portland Timbers at Providence Park.