- Los Angeles FC have reached the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals in first foray into continental competition
- Of the remaining three clubs, two are from Mexico, with the other from Honduras
- Read on for a preview of the final four, full odds and best bets for both matches taking place on Saturday, December 19
Los Angeles Football Club may only be in their third season of existence, but they’ve wasted little time in making their presence known across the CONCACAF region. Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Cruz Azul in a single-game, winner-take-all quarterfinal punched their ticket to a semifinal against Club América, with the two facing off this Saturday, December 19, in Orlando at 10:30 pm ET.
The other semifinal features another Liga MX side in the shape of Tigres UANL, who will take on reigning Honduran champions CD Olimpia earlier the same day, at 8:00 pm ET.
No Major League Soccer club has ever won the CONCACAF Champions League since it took on its current moniker in 2008 with a round-robin phase before the format was tweaked again 10 years later. But both DC United and the LA Galaxy won the competition in its previous two-legged knockout guise, lifting the trophy in 1998 and 2000 respectively.
LAFC vs Club América Odds
|LAFC vs Club América||LA 0.0, -0.5 (-125) | CA 0.0, +0.5 (+105)||LA -106 | CA +250
|Ov 2.5 (-167) | Un 2.5 (+130)|
All odds taken Dec. 19 at DraftKings
Can LAFC Score Mexican Hat Trick?
After seeing off Liga MX champion Club Leon in the round-of-16, before getting past Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals, Bob Bradley’s team will be looking to claim a Liga MX hat trick by knocking out Club América on Saturday to reach the Champions League final.
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) December 17, 2020
If LAFC’s progress to this stage is any indicator, the only way they will do it is via the hard way. They managed to overcome a 2-0 first-leg loss in Mexico to advance past Leon with a 3-0 victory at Banc of California Stadium to advance, before squeezing past Cruz Azul with a 71st-minute winner from teenage striker Kwadwo Opoku on Wednesday.
In Vela We Trust
If LAFC are to secure a first-ever berth in the final, they will do so on the scoring of Mexican national team striker Carlos Vela, who leads LAFC in Champions League scoring with three goals.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 17, 2020
While Bradley’s team defense has been resolute in its past two games against Mexican opposition, conceding just one goal, Club América is an offensive force. They put three past Atlanta United in a 3-1 aggregate win in the quarterfinals, and were the leading scorers in this season’s Liga MX Apertura, with 31 goals in 17 games.
However, with that portion of the season wrapping up in November, they haven’t won a game since the start of that month, losing both home and away in the Apertura quarterfinals to Guadalajara, as well as the 1-0 second-leg loss to Atlanta on Wednesday.
Familiar Territory for Club América
The Mexican club is no stranger to the sharp end of the Champions League either, having won the tournament in consecutive years from 2014-16. Miguel Herrera’s club also holds the record with seven Champions Cup titles.
And while Saturday’s meeting will be their first-ever game again, Club América has a decent track record against MLS clubs, posting three wins, three draws and two losses in eight contests.
Tigres UANL vs CD Olimpia Odds
|Tigres UANL vs CD Olimpia||N/A||UANL -200 | OL +450
|Ov 2.5 (-160) | Un 2.5 (+125)|
Can Tigres Break Through?
Always the bridesmaid and never the bride is an apt phrase for the club from San Nicolas de los Garza, on the outskirts of Monterrey. On three occasions since 2015 Tigres have reached the Champions League final, losing to Mexican rivals on each occasion. And it’s not just the CONCACAF Champions League that has excruciatingly eluded their grasp – after becoming the third Mexican team to reach the final of the Copa Libertadores in 2015, they lost that too.
But while that 0-3 record in CONCACAF finals will be an extremely sore point for fans of UANL, Ricardo Ferretti’s team is back into the semifinals once again, with a single-game shot against CD Olimpia to return to the final on Saturday.
The team finished sixth in the Liga MX Apertura but was eliminated by Cruz Azul in the Apertura quarterfinals, but Tuesday’s resounding 4-0 quarterfinal win over New York City FC will have left little doubt that Ferretti’s team means business.
Can Olimpia Return to Glory?
Honduras’s most successful club needs little introduction. In addition to 31 domestic league titles, CD Olimpia have also reached the final of this tournament on four occasions, winning two and losing two.
— Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (@TheChampions) December 17, 2020
But the last of those appearances was 20 years ago, and this is the furthest the club has got since. Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact was enough to advance on away goals in the two-legged series, becoming the first Central American club to make the tournament’s final four since 2015.
— Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (@TheChampions) December 16, 2020
To have a chance against UANL, head coach Pedro Troglio will need his midfield to maintain its recent form. Edwin Rodriguez leading the competition in ball recoveries with 10, while upfront Jerry Bengtson offers experience with his three career Champions League goals.
The club’s track record against Mexican opposition is not great, however, with just two wins in eight matches, versus four losses and two draws.
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