Liga MX open to potential new cup competition with MLS - president

After withdrawing from the Copa Libertadores, Liga MX is open to a potential new cup competition in collaboration with Major League Soccer, the Mexican league's president said on Friday.

"It's a possibility," Enrique Bonilla said about working together with MLS. "Mexico has wanted to do this for some years now, to have some type of tournament with the U.S. teams, but for now we will just have the CONCACAF Champions League."

Mexican teams have been invited to South America's premier international club competition since 1998, but a scheduling change to run the Libertadores from February until November starting next year proved a stumbling block for Liga MX.

Bonilla confirmed on Friday that Liga MX clubs would not participate in 2017, though they would work toward returning in 2018.

With the Mexican team's schedule cleared without the Copa Libertadores, a new competition could be played in addition to the CONCACAF Champions League, which features top clubs from North and Central America and the Carribean.

In late 2014, Liga MX owners discussed adding MLS teams to Mexico's domestic cup competition, Copa MX, and MLS said then it was open to a proposal. Then last year, Mexican Football Federation president Decio de Maria said a number of proposals were on the table.

MLS commissioner Don Garber told Univision in May that he would "love" to organize a new tournament between the leagues to replace the SuperLiga, which featured four teams each from both leagues and ran from 2007-2010 while the CONCACAF Champions League developed.

"We created something called the SuperLiga a while ago," Garber said in May. "We played an inter-league tournament in January. I'd love to be able find a way to organize a tournament between Liga MX and MLS. It'd be very good for our fans and our leagues.

"We could sell the games all over the world, I think there would be a lot of interest in them. There are problems with the schedule. The Liga MX schedule is complicated and so is that of MLS."

An MLS spokesperson confirmed on Friday that the league's attitude remains the same.

Pachuca president Jesus Martinez told Medio Tiempo there are advantages for Liga MX clubs to strengthen ties with MLS.

"[Liga MX] loses a lot [by not being in the Libertadores], although it will be strengthened in another way, because we are looking at a league with the United States to strengthen the bi-national issue. And MLS is also growing very well, with a great vision.

"The [Copa Libertadores] window closes, but we hope to open others. Enrique has some very ambitious projects."

However, Bonilla cautioned that a good accord with MLS was only the first step in planning a new event.

"The league has a great and close-knit relationship with MLS. We're working to do things together," he said. "But we also have a great relationship with the Bundesliga, Premier League and the Colombian league.

"We are creating projects with each of them to improve Mexican football."

Liga MX and MLS clubs already make up most of the CONCACAF Champions League, with all eight quarterfinalists last season coming from the two leagues, and six this year.

Mexican teams have dominated the competition, winning every year since it was revamped in 2008-09. MLS teams have only been runners-up in two of those years, with the others being all-Mexico finals.