In recent years we’ve seen an increased level of collaboration between the North American countries on and off the soccer field. We need only look at the 2026 FIFA World Cup bid, Leagues Cup, and the 2021 MLS All-Star Game format as examples inextricably linking countries despite the on-field rivalry between clubs and national teams.
We asked soccer industry stakeholders for their opinions on the future, more-collaborative ecosystem that may emerge. To summarize thoughts from the collective, expect more partnerships and campaigns to engage fans of all sides more effectively and efficiently. Anticipate more collaboration on women’s soccer and maybe even the long-rumored and discussed MLS and LigaMX merger.
What is the value in these efforts? In simplest terms, a rising tide does, indeed, lift all boats. Collaboration shouldn’t limit the competition between countries to be the “top dog” of Concacaf. In fact, it may enhance the rivalry for supremacy as teams, leagues, and governing bodies work even more hand-in-hand. Ultimately, collaboration expedites the competitiveness of North America on the global soccer stage.
What industry stakeholders have to say
“The unique situation of Spanish-speaking consumers will continue to drive increased collaboration. More cross-cultural sports marketing campaigns will surface. LigaMX, MLS, U.S. Soccer, and the FMF will be focal points of fan engagement campaigns. If it’s done properly, it could open the door for better collaboration between North and South America on the Club and National Team level.”— Patrick Vendrely, TGI Sport, Chief Commercial Officer
“It’s always interesting to watch the rivalries between the U.S. and Mexico, specifically on the men’s side. On the women’s side, Mexico was allowed a certain number of allocated players into the NWSL. That went away after year two and now Mexico has a young, but thriving women’s professional league of its own. I’m proud to have three of my former collegians playing in the league. Is there a future in shared ideas or on-field competitions between the NWSL and the Mexican league, similar to that of MLS and LigaMX? With Canada, the U.S., and Mexico sharing 2026 World Cup hosting duties, hopefully collaborations also includes the women’s game because all initiatives that encourage young girls to participate and have aspirations to play at the highest level should be viewed as a positive to grow the game in the region.”— Lesle Gallimore, Girls Academy, Commissioner
“I think both federations and leagues recognize the upside potential of working together, that is why we have seen more collaborations recently – Leagues Cup, MLS All-Star, World Cup bid, etc. I do believe a LigaMX/MLS merger is worth exploring because a market of 450 million people can certainly support a 50-team tournament. In my opinion, a combined North American league would be better positioned to compete with European leagues not only on the field, but also commercially. It would be a very complex process, but who knows – maybe the 2026 World Cup would be a good milestone to kick off a new league.”— Jaime Cardenas, AC&M Group, CEO & Founder
“There has been a lot of collaboration between MLS/SUM and LigaMX for many years, dating back to things like the old SuperLiga tournament. The relationship between these organizations has grown and will continue to advance. But there is a potential in developing relationship on the women’s side. The women’s game appears to be fast-growing in Mexico, thus opening the door for future collaboration between the NWSL and Liga MX Femenil to lead in growing the women’s game in the Concacaf region and around the world.”— Chris Canetti, Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee, President
“If the importance of the U.S. Hispanic demo wasn’t evident enough to the soccer industry before, it sure will be post-pandemic where organizations will look to strike more strategic, long-term, and cost-effective deals. Combined with the quickly-approaching 2026 World Cup and the multicultural reality of the U.S. soccer market, properties will have to find creative ways to effectively reach fans of Mexican and American soccer at scale. That can mean a host of things ranging from cross-promotion with other endemic sports like boxing and American football, combined sponsorship and media packages, and more on and off-field products that bring the two together like the recently-launched Leagues Cup. Commercial synergy and sustainable growth now go hand-in-hand with the increased digitalization and globalization of the sport and industry, and arguably nowhere is that more pronounced than in the U.S. The same way non-traditional sectors are coming together (media + betting, gaming + broadcast) we can expect sports organizations to create and focus on new multi-channel, multi-disciplinary, and multi-region platforms that go beyond the traditional marketing playbooks.”— Cristian Nyari, DAZN, Head of Commerical Content
“I think the collaboration and creativity will continue in all areas from player development to bringing fans excitement based on competitions. The obvious financial incentives are there and soccer leaders in the United States realize that tying in to the Mexican soccer culture and fan is tying into a soccer culture that is as passionate as any in the world. We’ve heard about a possible collaboration between MLS and LigaMX. All of this can be positive, but let’s hope it’s done without neutralizing rivalry, competition, and identity. The market demand will surely help guide the path forward, but my hope is the competition remains of most importance to those who make these decisions.”— Glenn Davis, ESPN / Houston Dynamo / Longhorn Network, Commentator
“This All-Star Game format is a great way to have a collaborative initiative with some competitive stakes between MLS and LigaMX. I hope to see it continue. Maybe not every year, but certainly on a regular basis because I don’t think it will lose its luster for a while. Beyond that, I would like to see the Concacaf Champions League be the pinnacle of the competition between clubs in the two leagues. I am a little cynical about the Leagues Cup sometimes, but I’m okay with it being equivalent to the Europa League as long as teams from both leagues are chosen on merit. I’m sure plenty of people out there dream of a merger of the two leagues – including people with the power to make it happen. But I’d rather they stay separate because I’m not a fan of excessively combining domestic leagues for profit’s sake.”— Jonathan Tannenwald, Philadelphia Inquirer, Soccer Reporter
Additional thoughts from GESM
“The importance of speaking to American and Mexican fan bases is going to become increasingly important for brands here in the U.S. There’s already so much crossover in fandom, it just makes sense to focus efforts to appeal to both fanbases with unique and creative activations. Tackling this with the right messaging and positioning will be the challenge, but one I’m eager to see play out as we gear up for 2026.”— Nikki Allen, GESM
“Count me among those intrigued by the idea of an MLS and LigaMX merger. Will we ever get to that point? I imagine there are a lot of hurdles to clear, but it’s certainly an interesting idea when you consider what it could mean for the region. LigaMX is already among the most-watched, if not the most-watched, soccer league in the U.S. Couple that with growing viewership of, attention toward, and investment in MLS and you have a sports property not just knocking on the door of the crowded sporting landscape, but potentially bursting through and announcing its arrival in grand fashion. Surely, broadcasters would salivate at such an opportunity and MLS may find it intriguing as it looks for the equilibrium between selling and destination league.”— Mike Koeshartanto, GESM
“I can feasibly see a future where LigaMX looks to leverage its large fanbase in the U.S. with a handful of in-season games played stateside, just as LaLiga has tried to do in the past. MLS will be reluctant to concede that audience even further and work with LigaMX to spearhead efforts for a Super League-type league in North America following a successful joint 2026 FIFA World Cup.”— Cody Kuiper, GESM