It has been nine months since LAFC pulled that 3-0 comeback win over Liga MX side Club Leon in the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (SCCL).
After losing 2-0 in the first leg of the round of 16 in Mexico, The Black & Gold pulled a stunning comeback at Banc of California Stadium that put them through to the quarterfinals, before the competition was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now more than 200 days later, LAFC is back, and this time against Liga Mx giants Cruz Azul on Dec.16 at 7:30 p.m. The competition will be in a ‘bubble’ similar to the one created in the MLS is Back Tournament. All matches will be played at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, FL, the home of Orlando City SC of MLS.
The Black & Gold come into this game not in the best of moments, but with nothing to lose and everything to gain. After falling 3-1 to the Seattle Sounders in Round One of the 2020 MLS Playoffs, LAFC has one last shot to make this year a good one and earn some silverware.
LAFC will be able to count with its full roster for the first time since the MLS season was postponed back in March. All year long LAFC suffered the absence of important players due to injury or due to Covid-19. Club’s internationals Diego Rossi, Brian Rodriguez, Diego Palacios, and Jose Cifuentes were all absent from the game against Seattle after testing positive for Covid-19 during the last international break. Everyone in the roster will be available to play against Cruaz Azul with the exception of Bradley Wright-Phillips and Adrien Perez after both opted out of the competition after the club declined their contract options last week.
LAFC is one of the remaining four MLS teams still alive in the competition, joining Montreal Impact, Atlanta United FC, and New York City FC. No MLS team has won the Concacaf Champions League in its current format. The last time an MLS team won the region’s biggest competition was back in 2000 when the LA Galaxy won it when it was the Champions Cup Era. Since 2008 when the competition was changed to Champions League, only Liga MX teams have won it. Real Salt Lake, Montreal Impact, and Toronto FC have reached a final each but fell short each time.
If LAFC wants to make history and break the dominance from Mexican clubs, they will potentially have to beat three more Liga MX teams. First Cruz Azul, who are coming from a painful 4-0 elimination against Pumas UNAM, after winning the first leg 4-0 at home. Cruz Azul also announced this week they received six positive Covid-19 tests between staff and players but didn’t release any names. Cruz Azul was a very good team all season long in Liga MX, they were one of the most consistent teams but have lost three of their last five games.
An LAFC victory will most likely see them face off against another Liga MX giant Club America, who have a 3-0 lead over Atlanta United FC in the quarterfinals. Club America and Atlanta United FC managed to play the first leg before the competition was postponed. If The Black & Gold manage to reach the final then they could potentially see Liga MX team Tigres UANL who face off against New York FC in the quarter-finals.
The competition won’t be easy, if LAFC wants to make history they’ll have to play their best football and even get a little bit lucky.
The fun and exciting thing about single-match rounds is that anyone can beat anyone, even the smallest of errors can cost you the whole tournament and luck plays a bigger role than if it was a two-leg tie.
Winning the SCCL would earn LAFC a ticket to represent Concacaf in next year’s FIFA Club World Cup that will be played in February 2021.
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