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Mark-Anthony Kaye, LAFC advance to CONCACAF Champions League Final

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Bob Bradley’s side becomes the first team to reach the final since ... Toronto FC.

Soccer: 2020 Scotiabank Concacf Champions League - Quarterfinals-Los Angeles FC at Cruz Azul
Los Angeles FC forward Kwadwo Opoku (22) celebrates with midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye (14) after scoring a goal against Cruz Azul.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO, Canada—Just three years into existence, Los Angeles FC will have the opportunity to accomplish what Toronto FC came ever so close to two seasons ago: become the first Major League Soccer (MLS) side to conquer the CONCACAF region and achieve Champions League (CCL) supremacy in the modern era.

Bob Bradley’s squad, marshaled in the middle of the park by Canadian international and Toronto native Mark-Anthony Kaye, completed a thrilling come-from-behind win over Mexican giants Club America late Saturday night, overcoming a first-half deficit—and red card—to win 3-1 and advance to Tuesday’s final.

After falling behind early and having Eduard Atuesta controversially sent off right before halftime, LAFC rallied behind none other than 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela, as the Mexican international scored two goals in under a minute right out of the break to give his side the lead.

His second, which was very similar to his first, came just 13 seconds after equalizing, ultimately turning the tie on its head.

After a Club America player was sent off for a rather frustrated challenge on Diego Rossi, Latif Blessing would put this one to bed in the 95th minute, tapping home a rebound and ensuring LAFC’s spot in the final.

It’s the first time that a MLS team has reached the CCL final since Toronto FC in 2018. On the heels of the franchise’s first MLS Cup, the Reds made their infamous push to the final almost three years ago, of course losing a heartbreaker to Guadalajara in penalties.

TFC, who prior to this year could only qualify for the tournament by winning the Canadian Championship, were the closest that an MLS franchise has ever come to conquering the CONCACAF region. The Montreal Impact also made the 2015 final and Real Salt Lake advanced to the 2011 title game, with both teams falling shorting against Liga MX foes.

LAFC have already done what none of those sides could: become the first North American team to defeat three Liga MX opponents. First, Club Leon in the Round of 16, then Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals and now Club America in the semifinals. If they want to hoist the title, they’ll have to become the first and only team to conquer four, as they’ll take on Tigres UANL in the final at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida Tuesday night.

Coming within inches of accomplishing what no other North American club has done before, TFC have spoken to lengths about their desire to get back to the CCL title game. But first, they’ll have to play spectator to LAFC as the western-conference side aim to do what the Reds—and no other MLS team before them—couldn’t: complete the historic run.