Club León wins CONCACAF Champions League
Club León won their first Champions League title on Sunday night after defeating LAFC 3-1 on aggregate.
No, I’m not talking about the UEFA Champions League that seems to be popular for whatever reason. What I’m talking about is the CONCACAF Champions League, or the CCL.
Like its European counterpart, the CONCACAF Champions League serves as a competition for the best clubs in the region. Teams from the U.S., Mexico, Canada and other CONCACAF nations battle it out to be crowned the best club in North America.
The tournament consists of 16 teams that play in a knockout-only format. Each round consists of two legs, and the team with the best aggregate score moves on to the next round.
Following months of action, Club León and LAFC were the last two teams standing.
León doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time after LAFC defender Ryan Hollingshead was penalized for a handball in the box. Ángel Mena scored the penalty in the 45+5′, giving León a two-goal advantage after the first half.
In the second half, LAFC was able to gain some momentum. Still, it took until the 90+6′ for the MLS side to pull a goal back. Denis Bouanga was able to connect on a cross from Mateusz Bogusz to give LAFC a valuable goal that kept them alive in the tie.
Los Angeles served as the location of the second leg of the final. On Sunday night, León and LAFC met again, this time at BMO Stadium. León came into the game with a 2-1 aggregate lead, meaning LAFC was going to need to win at home if they wished to win the CCL.
LAFC started the game well, dominating the early proceedings and looking likely to score. However, it was León who struck and extended their advantage. Lucas Di Yorio connected with a first-time shot on a cross from Iván Moreno in the 20′ to restore León’s two-goal advantage that they had for most of the first leg.
The goal changed the momentum of the first half. León became the team dominating possession and creating more chances, and LAFC looked lost on the field.
The second half saw LAFC manager Steve Cherundolo make six substitutions in an attempt to change the course of the game. However, León looked up to the task and was able to defend their two-goal advantage until the final whistle blew, winning them the CCL with a 3-1 final aggregate score.
What It Means:
This was León first-ever Concacaf Champions League title and their first-ever continental title. In a difficult Clausura season where the club made an early exit in the postseason playoffs, this gives victory gave León a positive way to end the season.
“There are no words,” Leon midfielder Fidel Ambríz told TUDN after the match. “A very, very special day for me. I’m very happy, overjoyed to be able to achieve something with the team from my city, where I was born.”Via ESPN
Liga MX also reclaimed its CONCACAF superiority with León’s victory. Last year, the Seattle Sounders defeated Pumas UNAM to give the MLS its first CCL champion; León’s victory now brings the CCL title back to Liga MX, which has had its clubs win all but one CCL title since the modern era of the CCL began in 2008.
Last CONCACAF Champions League:
This was the last edition of the Concacaf Nations League. Concacaf announced the creation of the CONCACAF Champions Cup on Tuesday to serve as the premier club competition in CONCACAF.
The Champions Cup will be similar to the Champions League but will have 27 teams instead of the 16 teams that competed for the CCL. 22 teams will take part in Round 1, with five teams getting a bye into the Round of 16. The winners of the Round 1 ties will then be joined by the other five teams in the Round of 16.
“The CONCACAF Champions Cup will take continental club football in our region to the next level,” said Concacaf President and FIFA Vice President, Victor Montagliani. “It will elevate leagues and clubs across CONCACAF and the new name for the competition, alongside this vibrant new brand, allows us to celebrate our rich history while looking ahead to a great future of international club football in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.”
This tournament is basically just an expanded version of the current CCL format. Personally, I was hoping for a full group stage format like what the current UEFA Champions League format is, but I guess an expanded knockout format is still a positive change.
Congrats to Club León, however, who will go down in history as the last team to win the CONCACAF Champions League.
SUBSCRIBE to the Vendetta YouTube Channel!
CLICK HERE for more soccer content!