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Hector Trujillo

Concacaf Champions League: LAFC and Tigres With Unfinished Business As They Enter The Final

The 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League final between Tigres UANL (MEX) and LAFC (USA) is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, December 22 at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium at 7 PM (PST) 10 PM (EST) and will be televised on Fox Sports 2 and TUDN US.

It has been a long road to the 2020 Concacaf Champions League Final and the Champion will be determined tomorrow, Tuesday, December 22. On Monday afternoon, players and coaches from both LAFC and Tigres’ squads took part in separate press conferences and discussed the implications of winning the much anticipated Concacaf Champions League final. Whoever wins will earn not only the respect of its peers but a place in soccer history.

LAFC enters the match by becoming the first MLS squad in history to defeat three Liga MX teams

LAFC conquered Club León, Cruz Azul, and Club América to earn their place in the final round and hope to be the first in 20 years to win the title of champions. LAFC would become the first MLS champions since LA Galaxy beat CD Olimpia in 2000.

This achievement would be a victory that reverberates across the region. Despite being eliminated in the MLS quarterfinals by the Seattle Sounders, the squad is led by former USMNT head coach Bob Bradley and the road to this final was not smooth but very entertaining. LAFC was able to comeback after trailing in their previous two matches, including being a man down in the semifinal against Club América.

Los Angeles FC really does stand on the precipice of history and Bradley acknowledged it last week when he referred to the possible victory as “a special trophy and the chance to go to a Club World Cup would be incredible.” Not only would the Californians become the first MLS team to win the SCCL, but they would be the first-ever team from MLS to compete in a FIFA Club World Cup. For a team that only started playing in MLS in 2018, the chance to go up against all the continental champions in next February’s tournament in Qatar would be significant.

Tigres UANL is a club that requires little introduction, even amongst those who don’t follow Liga MX closely. The team is led by the legendary two-time former Mexican national team coach Ricardo El Tuca Ferretti and is known as the “Team of the Decade” south of the border — thanks to their five championships over the last 10 seasons.

Tigres, which is based in San Nicolás, México, does however have some bitter memories when it comes to the Concacaf Champions League having lost in the championship match three out of the last four years (2016 Club América, 2017 Pachuca FC, 2019 Monterrey).

Tigres enters the final as a slight favorite according to the oddsmakers with LAFC being without the services of star midfielder Eduard Atuesta who was ejected to end the first half of the semifinal after a flop by Club América goalkeeper Memo Ochoa misled the referee into issuing him a red card.

The SCCL semifinal between LAFC and Club America included some great football from both teams and was a compelling match. However, some incidents were unacceptable and have been considered by the Concacaf Disciplinary Committee.

According to Concacaf, the Committee has sanctioned former Club America Head Coach Miguel Herrera and LAFC Assistant Coach Ante Razov each with four-match suspensions for unsporting conduct. Additionally, Miguel Herrera has been sanctioned with a further one-match suspension for continuing to communicate with the team after being ejected from the game.

“There’s nothing to process or dwell on,” said Bob Bradley. “It’s just an excitement level for being in a final. We’re competing against a great team so that’s the only part we’re thinking about.”

LAFC will undoubtedly try to complete the task that the other MLS teams were unable to complete.

“I didn’t know before I came that this was such a high level,” said LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer. “Every game is competitive, you need to give your all. If you play at 80%, you will lose the game for sure.”

This is Vermeer’s first season with LAFC and previously played in Europe for Club Brugge and AFC Ajax.

Tigres head coach Tuca Ferretti looks forward to the match up and said, “LADC is made up of many good players with very special qualities. Like I’ve said in the past, LAFC is not just made up of Carlos Vela, it is a complete team.”

LAFC Midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye also agrees his opponent is a very good team. “Tigres is a very good team that plays good football and has a very good roster,” said Kaye. “I think they have things that we have not seen from the other clubs early on.”

“We have to worry about the rival that’s in front of us and focus on what we are capable of doing,” said Tigres center back Carlos Salcedo. “All the games have been tight and hard-fought. We have to keep our emotions in check and implement the game plan set forth.”

“I feel there are several teams in the MLS that can compete at a high level with Liga MX,” said Tigres midfielder Guido Pizarro. “I think the team we are facing in the final, teams like Columbus and others, are doing things well and can do more than just compete.”

The 2020 SCCL Final will be widely available for fans across the region to follow and enjoy through the Confederation’s TV partner networks, including FOX Sports (USA-English), TUDN (USA-Spanish), Fox Sports Latin America (Mexico-Spanish), ESPN (Central America-Spanish), TSN and RDS (Canada-English and French), Flow Sports (Caribbean-English) and other local partners.

How did the teams earn their spot in the final?

In Saturday’s semifinal action, forward Andre-Pierre Gignac led Tigres UANL into the Final with two goals in a 3-0 victory over CD Olimpia of Honduras. The Liga MX club will participate in its fourth SCCL final in five years.

Later that same night, Carlos Vela scored two goals in the first two minutes of the second half to help Los Angeles FC punch their ticket to the 2020 SCCL Final with a thrilling 3-1 comeback triumph over Club America. It is the fourth time that a team from MLS has reached the SCCL Final. The last time was in 2018 when Toronto FC faced CD Guadalajara.

Photo credit: Concacaf.com/MexSport

All participating clubs in the centralized 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (SCCL) matches are following strict health and safety protocols, including regular COVID-19 testing in Concacaf’s controlled environment in Orlando, Florida.

Ahead of the Semifinal matches, the entire delegations of each club went through further COVID-19 testing and there are no new positive cases.


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