MLS and Liga MX may be far from merging as of yet, but the two will be collaborating more than ever for a one-month Leagues Cup competition starting in 2023.
Each summer, clubs for North America's two biggest leagues, including Austin FC, will take a pause to compete in the Leagues Cup as part of the Concacaf Champions League competition. Winners of the tournament will be granted automatic qualification in the Champions League round of 16, while second-and third-place clubs will be given automatic admission into the CCL's opening round.
The Leagues Cup is the first of its kind and will be the first major soccer tournament to include every club from two top-flight leagues.
The competition will boost attention to the continent's first division leagues in the years ahead of North America's ambitious 48-country FIFA World Cup in 2026. For the first time, three countries—Canada, Mexico and the United States—will co-host the competition.
"The partnership is rooted in the on-field rivalry but connected by a true spirit of collaboration off the field, with a focus on sharing best practices, growing the beautiful game in North America, and being a force for positive change in the communities of both leagues," the league said in a statement Tuesday.
The Leagues Cup also serves to unite North American soccer culture while fostering rivalries between teams in the two leagues. Liga MX teams often compete with MLS clubs in friendly matches and can be seen going head-to-head in MLS All-Star matches, the annual Campeones Cup, which pits the best club of each league against each other each year, and the current Leagues Cup, a yearly competition between the four top clubs of both leagues.
On the international pitch, the U.S. men's national team last bested reigning Concacaf champions Mexico in the Concacaf Gold Cup, with Canada coming in third. Rivalries continue to intensify between the U.S. and Mexico, which usually alternate championship titles.
🗣️ @MLS Commissioner @thesoccerdon on the future of the Leagues Cup and CCL ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/DLKxkq5e26
— Leagues Cup (@LeaguesCup) September 21, 2021
Liga MX Executive President Mikel Arriola said the Leagues Cup will serve to boost Concacaf and other Caribbean leagues as well as MLS and Liga MX, which sit at ninth and 14th in world soccer league rankings, respectively.
"This day represents a before and after for the whole North America, Central America and Caribbean regions as they will greatly benefit from this agreement," Arriola said.
The expanded cup also hints at closer relations between the two leagues, which could eventually form a continental super league. Both FIFA President Gianni Infantino and MLS Commissioner Don Garber have hinted at the possibility of a merger in the past.
Players from each league last went head-to-head as the best players from each team tied 1-1 on Aug. 25 at LAFC's Banc of California Stadium, though it was Liga MX's best who prevailed in penalty kicks.
Next up, Seattle Sounders FC will play Liga MX's Club León in the 2021 Leagues Cup Final on Wednesday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The Campeones Cup will see MLS reigning champions Columbus Crew SC host Liga MX's top team Cruz Azul on Sept. 29 to close out international competitions.
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.