Los Angeles FC and Atlanta United had mixed success in their CONCACAF Champions League matches last night. The team from the City of Angels advanced to the semifinals, while the 2019 MLS Cup winners suffered an elimination despite winning Wednesday’s contest.
LAFC played against Cruz Azul, and this was the only matchup in the quarterfinals, that saw just one leg. The two sides didn’t get to play the first leg, forcing the organizers to have just one contest that would decide who advances to the top four teams in the competition.
The Americans won, 2-1, coming back from behind, following an initial deficit. After 15 minutes of play, Yoshimar Yotun scored from a penalty, and Cruz Azul shocked the guests who previously hit the crossbar, after Diego Rossi’s fierce shot.
Fortunately, their pressure gave results until halftime, with the referee handing a penalty following a foul on Carlos Vela. The former MLS MVP, was ice-cold when executing the same, leveling the result and bringing back the FC into the game.
A win for the 2019 Supporters’ Shield winners was sealed in the 71st minute, with the 19-year old Kwadwo Opoku hitting the back of the net, shortly following his entrance on the pitch. The young Ghanaian would score following a corner, reaching the ball near the box and smashing it past Cruz Azul’s goalkeeper.
“Understand that Carlos, from the beginning of the season, was so excited for Champions League,” Bob Bradley said postgame. “Excited to play against Leon, excited to play against Cruz Azul. He’s already talking about now Club America.”
LAFC is the only MLS team in the semifinals, as three others finished its competition in the quarterfinals. One of them is Atlanta Untied, who, although defeating Club America, 1-0, exited on aggregate, 1-3.
Stephen Glass’ guys attacked all the time, trying to find a crack in the Mexican team’s defense, but without too much success. Fantastic Guillermo Ochoa was defending everything, with the experienced goalkeeper posting six saves in 90 minutes.
There was just one shot he couldn’t stop, when Jackson Conway unleashed a header that went behind his back. Still, it was only eight minutes before the end, and there was no time for United to score two quick goals. They didn’t have enough quality for something like that, and in the final moments of the match, nominal hosts lost their composure. Marcelino Moreno’s violent conduct earned him a straight red card, and that was the end of Atlanta’s hopes for a miracle.
“I’m proud of the team. They did everything that we asked of them. We spoke yesterday about the first thing being, can we win the game, which we did. We knew it was going to be very, very difficult,” Glass explained.
If it weren’t for a 3-0 defeat early on this year, things could have been different, but the poor form from that part of the season eventually hurt Atlanta now. In the meantime, Frank De Boer left the team, and Glass jumped in to replace him, doing a solid job.
The semifinal pairs of the CONCACAF Champions League are LAFC vs. Club America and UNAL Tigres vs. Olimpia.
By the way, four quarterfinal contests all occurred at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, to avoid the problems that might be caused by COVID-19 infections.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.