Leon clinch 1st CONCACAF Champions League title

Lucas Di Yorio found the back of the net in the opening half, leading Club Leon to their first-ever CONCACAF Champions League title with a 1-0 triumph over Los Angeles FC on Sunday night.

With a 3-1 aggregate scoreline, Leon secured the championship after winning the first leg 2-1 in Mexico on Wednesday. Despite playing at LAFC’s formidable BMO Stadium, Leon impressed by delivering another winning performance, highlighted by Di Yorio’s goal in the 20th minute.

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Leon finished sixth in the Liga MX standings last month but demonstrated superior play in both legs to eliminate the defending Major League Soccer champions. As the ninth Mexican club to win the Champions League since its inception in 2002, Leon solidified their place in the tournament’s history.

Although LAFC had previously clinched the Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Cup, they fell short of accomplishing an unprecedented treble for an MLS club.

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Last year, the Seattle Sounders became the first MLS team to win the Champions League in its current format, showcasing the league’s increasing competitiveness. However, LAFC suffered their second defeat in the Champions League final in four seasons. They also lost the 2020 final to Tigres after a comeback victory against Leon in the earlier stages of that competition. Mexican teams have won 17 out of the last 18 CCL titles.

In the first leg, Leon held a two-goal advantage until injury time in the second half when a stunning strike from Denis Bouanga kept LAFC’s hopes alive despite a 2-1 defeat.

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For the rematch, LAFC deployed an atypical five-defender formation, including Italian legend Giorgio Chiellini, who had been sidelined with a leg injury since April 26. The tactical decision aimed to provide more control and strengthen the team’s wing-based attacking approach, as explained by Cherundolo.

LAFC displayed more aggression in their offensive efforts compared to the first leg, but Di Yorio extended Leon’s lead when the Argentine forward found space in the box and unleashed a shot that eluded LAFC goalkeeper John McCarthy, who had made several outstanding saves in the initial encounter.

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In the second half, LAFC managed a few promising opportunities but only registered three shots on target. In the fourth minute of injury time, Leon goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota made an exceptional save to deny Timothy Tillman’s header.

Towards the end of July, both MLS and Liga MX will temporarily suspend their respective domestic competitions to accommodate the third edition of the Leagues Cup club tournament. This tournament will mark the first occasion where every team from both leagues will participate.

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