Disappointment: LAFC falls to Tigres in Concacaf Champions League final

MLS teams came into the 2020 Concacaf Champions League with an 0-3 record in the final.

Mexico's Tigres also lost in its three appearances in the final, all in the previous four years.

Something had to give in Orlando.

LAFC had the Concacaf club championship in its sights, taking a deserved 1-0 lead in the 61st minute on a wonderfully constructed goal finished off by Diego Rossi with a lob over Tigres keeper Nahuel Guzman after a series of 10 passes that begin with a throw-in the LAFC half.

The lead was the latest an MLS team has ever led in the four finals. Real Salt Lake (2011), the Montreal Impact (2015) and Toronto FC (2018) all were even or led at some point in the second legs of their finals with their Mexican opponents but all lost.

Given the soccer it played and the path it took to the final -- wins over a trio of Mexican opponents -- LAFC's 2-1 loss was the most disappointing.

Shortly after Rossi's goal, Carlos Vela had a chance to finish off the game, but his open shot was blocked by a Tigres defender. In the 72nd minute, a Tigres corner kick led to Hugo Ayala's equalizer with glancing header to the far post.

"We're very disappointed," said LAFC coach Bob Bradley. "I thought for 70 minutes we made the game very hard for them. It's a choppy game, it's not always that the football's perfect, but I thought our way of going after them and pushing the game for 70 minutes was quite good and we have a big chance when Mahala [Kwadwo Opoku] beats the defender and cuts the ball to Carlos to go to 2-0. And then we just -- a misunderstanding between Kenneth Vermeer and Eddie Segura leads to a corner, we just don't do well in the front zone. And then Mark-Anthony Kaye has a chance in the back to maybe clear it."

The goal marked the second straight game in which LAFC conceded a goal on a corner kick. But while it recovered from the early goal it conceded against Club America and won, 3-1, in the semifinals, the momentum of the final changed after the equalizer. LAFC's energy sapped, leading to the second goal in the 84th minute.

"You could tell at that point now we start to get a little bit more careless, a little slower to close things down," Bradley said. "We have so many guys back in position and we just don't do a good enough job."

Luis Rodriguez cruised past three LAFC and laid the ball to French star Andre-Pierre Gignac, who slotted the ball home for his tournament-high sixth goal, one more than Vela.

The game was, as Bradley said, choppy with 40 fouls and, amazingly, no cards. But his young team handled the pressure well. Eight LAFC players, including Rossi, the 2020 MLS Young Player of the Year, were 23 years old or younger. Center forward Danny Musovski spent the last two seasons in the USL Championship.

Still, the ending to a long season and long CCL campaign, made longer by the COVID-19 pandemic, was a disappointment for LAFC.

"I thought our way of going after the game tonight was real good and some moments not our sharpest," said Bradley. "But still, the mentality to play in a final and push the game, that's important."

Dec. 22 in Orlando, Fla.
LAFC 1 Tigres 2. Goals: Rossi 61; Ayala 72, Gignac 84.
LAFC -- Vermeer; Palacios, Segura, Murillo (R.Rodriguez 88), Blackmon; Cifuentes (Ginella 67), Blessing, Kaye; Vela, Musovski (Opoku 46), Rossi.
Tigres -- Guzman; Salcedo, Ayala (Meza 74), Duenas (Fulgencio 71), L.Rodriguez; Pizarro, Aquino (Tercero 87), Quinones (Venegas 87), Carioca; Gignac, Fernandez (Lopez 71)

9 comments about "Disappointment: LAFC falls to Tigres in Concacaf Champions League final".
  1. Wooden Ships, December 23, 2020 at 9:40 a.m.

    Disappointed. MLS is still the lesser league. Tigres had a quiet confidence and went about playing for 90. Too many times LAFC gave away possession. We could have also used a little more fire coming from Touch. 

  2. frank schoon replied, December 23, 2020 at 10:41 a.m.

    Ships, didn't see the game ..will to try watch the replay when it comes on. I saw one of the goals on foxsports....where the Tigre player comes across the box and passes off for the shot on goal.

    I count 6 LAFC defenders plus the goalie in the box covering no one against 2 Tigre attackers...Awful defense, so much space allowed..

  3. Wooden Ships replied, December 23, 2020 at 3:57 p.m.

    Yeah, simple ball played across to the 18 and a nice pass/shot for the goal. The cohesion on defense wasn't there, which I would include the Keeper as well. This does happen to all teams on occasion. After the header for goal, LAFC looked rudderless. Vela was caught napping on that one, yet I wouldn't have Vela defending to begin with. Twas another instance where a post defender might have headed it away. So few teams use a post defense on corners, but I see too many goals that could have been denied if employed. Those restarts are deadly if even one player is not clicked on. LAFC had a very good run getting there, just frustrating for the League that they couldn't complete the mission. They had the chance(s). Rossi had a horrid shot at the top of the 18 earlier and Vela was slow on another great chance. As they game grew it appeared that Tigres was the more complete club and with a greater confidence. 

  4. Wooden Ships replied, December 23, 2020 at 4:28 p.m.

    switched on.

  5. Rey Phillips, December 23, 2020 at 9:56 a.m.

    The best part of the tournament was that the teams from both leagues were mostly in form. The schedule has to change from starting the tournament while MLS teams haven't played a competitive game in February while Liga MX teams are a month in. I really want to see a situation like this where teams from both leagues are in form, and then go straight to the World Champions Cup.

  6. beautiful game, December 23, 2020 at 1:08 p.m.

    I guess the 40 fouls and no caution(s) in this game tells something about that man in the middle and his crew.

  7. Wallace Wade, December 23, 2020 at 1:10 p.m.

    It's a Cup Final....let them play! I don't want to see a Cup Final decided by a referee. The best team won

  8. Wooden Ships replied, December 23, 2020 at 4:04 p.m.

    I'm with you Wallace. Players, teams, have to adapt to the moment, be it the Center, the field, the atmosphere and so on. I thought the Center was balanced and wanting no part in trying to determine whose dramatics were more genuine. There's 90 minutes to get the result, one has to figure out how. Tigres did. 

  9. humble 1, December 25, 2020 at 11:13 p.m.

    LAFC put up a good fight before the wheels came off after about an hour.  Tigres were prepared and willing to wait for their chances, they played the entire 90.  Rather than fouls, it was far too many errant passes by LAFC, the classic failing to take chances, and flat out poor defending that got them.  Tigres knew their advantages and took them.  To beat a Tuca Ferretti team, you must be at your tactical and technical best, his teams are always ready to play and they will know your weaknesses.  He has one almost every title possible as player and/or coach in Mexico, though he is Brazilian.  Respect to Tuca for his accomplishment, LAFC did not make it easy.        

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