LAFC suffers CONCACAF Champions League heartbreak as it loses 3-1 on aggregate to Leon as Lucas Di Yorio’s first-half strike seals the 1-0 second-leg win and title for the Mexican side
- Leon had won the first leg of the final showdown 2-1 in Mexico on Wednesday
- LAFC won the Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Cup, but fell short of the treble
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Los Angeles FC suffered CONCACAF Champions League heartbreak as it was defeated 3-1 on aggregate by Leon in the final Sunday night.
Leon won the first leg of the final 2-1 in Mexico on Wednesday night, and the Liga MX club thrilled its thousands of traveling supporters with another 1-0 winning effort at LAFC’s daunting BMO Stadium Sunday.
Lucas Di Yorio’s first-half strike was the only goal of the second leg clash and it sealed the Mexican’s side first CONCACAF Champions League title.
León finished sixth in the Liga MX standings last month, but took out the defending Major League Soccer champions with superior play in both legs.
LAFC won both the Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Cup last fall, but fell short of an unprecedented treble for an MLS club. A year ago, the Seattle Sounders became MLS´s first Champions League winner in the current format, making another argument for the leagues’ increasing equality.
Los Angeles FC lost the CONCACAF Champions League final 3-1 on aggregate to Leon
Lucas Di Yorio’s first-half strike was the only goal of the second leg clash and sealed the title
Los Angeles FC goalkeeper John McCarthy leapt to block an earlier shot from the midfielder
But LAFC lost the Champions League final for the second time in four seasons. The club also lost the 2020 final to Tigres after knocking off León with a second-leg comeback victory earlier in that competition.
With a hunger to gain international recognition for their remarkable success in just six seasons of existence, LAFC’s coaches and executives had described this final as the most important match in team history, although most acknowledged the MLS titles mean more to fans.
In the first leg, León took a two-goal lead into second-half injury time before a dramatic strike from Denis Bouanga kept LAFC’s hope alive despite its 2-1 loss.
LAFC opened the rematch with an uncharacteristic five-defender formation including Italian great Giorgio Chiellini, who hadn’t played since April 26 due to a leg injury.
LAFC was more assertive on offense than in the first leg, but Di Yorio still boosted León’s lead when the Argentine forward got space in the box and bounced a shot that got away from LAFC goalkeeper John McCarthy, who made a handful of spectacular saves in the opening match.
LAFC managed a handful of moderately promising chances in the second half, but still only put three shots on goal. León goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota made a stellar save on Timothy Tillman’s header in the fourth minute of second-half injury time.
The lively home-and-home final was the latest positive step in the partnership between MLS and Liga MX, which have partnered on multiple competitive business ventures in recent years to create revenue while boosting North American soccer’s global profile.
Italian great Giorgio Chiellini returned to the LA lineup after being out since April 26
Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (left) vies with Leon midfielder Fidel Ambriz (center)
Goalscorer Di Yorio had to be stretchered off during the secondhalf with an injury
‘We want people to know these are both growing soccer nations,’ MLS Commissioner Don Garber said before the match. ‘When the world sees this final, and when they see the (Leagues Cup), they´re going to know it.’
In late July, both leagues will pause domestic competition for the third edition of the Leagues Cup club tournament, which will feature every team in MLS and Liga MX participating for the first time.
‘That was a very big effort, but we felt it was important to do it,’ Liga MX President Mikel Arriola said. ‘We are building something together, and the world will see more competition, more quality.’
León is the ninth Mexican club to win the Champions League in its current format, which began in 2002.