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LAFC looking to redress balance of power in another MLS-Liga MX CCL final

LAFC progressed to their second CCL final in the club’s short history with Liga MX side Club Leon awaiting in the two legged final.

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Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

On Tuesday night at BMO Field in downtown Los Angeles, Steve Cherundolo’s side became the sixth MLS side ever to progress to the final stage of the Concacaf Champions League as they overcame Philadelphia Union.

Prior to last year’s final when Seattle Sounders finally broke the final hoodoo as they beat Pumas UNAM, reaching the CCL final meant just one thing for MLS teams.... defeat and heartbreak with this being dished out invariably at the hands of clubs from south of the border.

Real Salt Lake, CCL pioneers

The side from Utah made history in 2011 as they became the first ever MLS team to reach the final after wins over Columbus Crew and Saprissa from Costa Rica on their journey to the final. Liga MX powerhouse Rayados were the opposition and a 2-2 draw in Mexico gave reason for hope ahead of the second leg. It wasn’t to be for Real Salt Lake, as a goal from Humberto Suazo sealed the win and title for the side from Monterrey.

This was to be the first chapter in a chronicle of close calls and near misses in Concacaf Champions League finals from MLS teams over the years with CF Montreal, Toronto FC and LAFC in 2020 all falling short at the hands of Liga MX opposition.

Sounders break the mould

Seattle Sounders were the MLS team to break the CCL final spell in 2022. A creditable 2-2 draw in Mexico City against Pumas put the side from Washington in pole position ahead of the second leg at Lumen Field. A crowd of just under 70,000 watched on as a brace from Raul Ruidiaz and a late strike from Nicolas Lodeiro sealed a famous 3-0 win on the night and 5-2 aggregate win for the ‘rave green’.

The win saw the Sounders become MLS’s first-ever representative at the FIFA Club World Cup but their Moroccan adventure was short lived as they fell 1-0 to Al Ahly (Egypt) in their second-round game.

LAFC looking to avenge 2020

LAFC have made giant leaps in their six years since the club’s inception. The ‘black and gold’ are current Major League Soccer champions and earlier this week they secured their place in the 2023 Concacaf Champions League final where they will face Liga MX side Club León in the two legged final, anxious to make amends after falling to Tigres UANL in the 2020 final.

Steve Cherundolo’s men also remain unbeaten in the opening stage of the 2023 MLS season.