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Tigres play spoiler as LAFC falls short in CONCACAF Champions League Final

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You can breathe now, Toronto FC supporters. It hasn’t been accomplished—yet.

Soccer: 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League - Final-Los Angeles FC at Tigres UANL Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO, Canada—Los Angeles FC came ever so close Tuesday night in Orlando, as Tigres UANL overcame a second-half deficit to defeat the MLS side 2-1 and capture the CONCACAF Champions League Tuesday night.

Led by Toronto’s own Mark-Anthony Kaye in the middle of the park, LAFC would put in a competitive shift against the Mexican giants, but would ultimately fall short. Despite the loss, Kaye, as he often has been since arriving at LAFC in 2018, was once again pivotal for Bob Bradley’s side, hitting a pinpoint second-half assist to Diego Rossi that opened the scoring.

Tigres would equalize shortly after, however, as the Liga MX side would break through in the 73rd minute off a corner kick. Again, Kaye would find himself in the heart of the action, but this time, the Canadian international couldn’t come up with what would have been a crucial goal line clearance, as Hugo Ayala’s header was too much for LAFC to handle.

Tigres would cause more trouble for Bob Bradley’s side before the night was over. In the 84th minute, Andre-Pierre Gignac’s first-time effort after a darting run forward from Luis Alfonso Rodríguez would find the back of the net, giving Tigres the late one-goal lead, against, really, what had been the run of play.

Despite their best efforts to equalize, LAFC couldn’t quite get over the hump and Tigres would go onto lift the trophy for the first time in their storied history.

LAFC’s shortcoming continues the unfortunate trend that has become quite the narrative surrounding Major League Soccer as still no MLS side has been able to win the CONCACAF Champions League, which is—and continues to be—a tournament traditionally dominated by Liga MX teams.

Toronto FC, of course, came closest in 2018, falling to Guadalajara in penalties. The Montreal Impact also made the 2015 final and Real Salt Lake advanced to the 2011 title game, but both teams also fell short against Liga MX foes.

LAFC did manage to do what no other MLS club had been able to up to this point: 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.

Unfortunately, they’ll share a similar experience to the Reds from two years ago, as it’s back to the drawing board for MLS in 2021.

Toronto FC will have the opportunity to book their ticket back to the competition in 2021 if they can get past Forge FC in the Canadian Championship Final, which is expected to be held sometime in January or February.