The situation is clear: Los Angeles Football Club need to win, and they need to overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit, against Club León if they want to advance to the 2020 Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals, in the second leg at Banc of California Stadium on Thursday.
LAFC’s first-ever CCL appearance did not kick off in auspicious fashion, as their first competitive game of the year, against one of the leading sides at present in Liga MX, was pretty clearly their worst-ever performance. The attack was essentially non-existent, the defense had to adopt a siege mentality for nearly 90 full minutes, and the midfield was rather patchy as a unit.
And yet...LAFC only lost 2-0. That deficit could very well be insurmountable in the end, but we’ve seen MLS teams not on the level in CCL get killed 6-0. It’s still possible León piles on a bunch of goals in the second leg, even at The Banc, but LAFC played very, very badly and still have a slight hope they could still turn it around.
In order to do that, LAFC will need to both neutralize León but also show why they were the best team in 2019 in MLS. It’s a fundamental thing: Passes need to connect cleanly, certainly not easy coming out of preseason but it’s now or never; LAFC absolutely need to string together good build-up sequences and actually shoot. If Carlos Vela gets bottled up again, who’s next man up? LAFC has never been a team literally built around Vela playing heroball, but if Vela isn’t clicking, other players need to step up, bottom line.
For León, Angel Mena, who scored in the first leg, is out injured, while talisman Luis Montes, said to be a doubt heading in, is in the squad for the game.
Angel Mena out for the return leg of @TheChampions against #LAFC. Montes and Navarro both back #LigaMXeng #LEON #LAFC pic.twitter.com/IfyTpPn1sl— Club León English (@ClubLeonEN) February 25, 2020
LAFC’s injury info: Only Adama Diomande and Bradley Wright-Phillips are listed on Wednesday. Both are out, as expected, with longer-term injuries.
LAFC has never played a two-game series before, and it’s hard to project how they’ll do. They’re not expected to advance at this stage, frankly, but putting together a win would go a long way to allaying some concerns from leg one, even if they don’t advance. Obviously, if they can win, they can approach advancing, too. And that’s why they play the games, you just never know if LAFC can look like a totally different team or if it will be more of the same and León will dominate. Here’s hoping LAFC can make it a make it a real series and even shock the region by overturning the series on Thursday at The Banc.
How LAFC can advance in CCL against Club León:
- LAFC beat Club León at least 3-0 and keep a clean sheet.
- If LAFC win, but León score on Thursday, LAFC need to score enough goals to break a tie, which would go to León on the away goals tiebreaker. So if León score one goal, LAFC need to win at least 4-1 (LAFC would advance 4-3 on aggregate), if León score two, LAFC need to win at least 5-2 (5-4 on aggregate), etc.
- If LAFC win 2-0 through 90 minutes, the teams would be deadlocked at 2-2. The series would then go down to a penalty shootout.
- Any other outcome would result in León advancing.
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