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Tuesday CCL Rewind: LAFC falls to Leon, Atlanta United earns draw at Motagua

Two MLS teams got their first taste of competitive action in 2020 as Atlanta United and Los Angeles FC opened their Concacaf Champions League campaigns with lackluster performances on Tuesday night.

Atlanta United conceded early, but hit back quickly, in a 1-1 draw against Motagua down in Honduras while LAFC struggled at the back and couldn’t find a finish in a 2-0 defeat on the road against Club Leon.

In the earlier match, Cruz Azul bagged a pair of goals in stoppage time to avoid a first-leg upset at Portmore United in Jamaica.

Here’s the full rundown of Tuesday’s CCL action:

Club Leon 2, LAFC 0

(Meneses 21′, Mena 89′)

LAFC showed some preseason rust throughout the first half of the game. Jean Meneses scored the opener thanks to a Triston Blackmon slip in the midfield and some awkward defending. They had a few chances at a goal of their own, but a lack of coordination and poor shooting kept them off the scoreboard.

LAFC cleaned up its act a bit in the second half, but it still wasn’t enough to find a goal, despite a few chances. The visitors pressed forward with plenty of energy, but often found themselves caught out on the counterattack. Leon was unlucky not to find a second before Angel Mena took advantage of another LAFC mistake in the 89th minute. Mohamed El-Munir lost possession of the ball deep in half, giving Leon a three-on-one advantage, allowing Mena to easily slot home the second goal.

LAFC will now need a much improved performance in the return leg at Banc of California Stadium next week.

Motagua 1, Atlanta United 1

(Moreira 34′)-(Martinez 35′)

Atlanta United also looked very much out of shape in its competitive opener. They struggled to get much going offensively and only managed to score with a quick response after conceding in the 34th minute.

Roberto Aldana gave Motagua a 1-0 lead, but Josef Martinez scored just a minute later by outrunning the host’s back line with some help from Pity Martinez. The move started with a long ball that found Pity, who then worked a nice one-touch passing sequence that ended in Josef banking a shot in off the far post as Motagua’s defenders sprinted back helplessly.

That was really Atlanta’s only chance of the game, however, as the visitors experienced few runs of sustained possession in the second half. The two sides ended up even on shots with 11 each.

Atlanta will have the advantage of an away goal heading home to Georgia for the second leg next week. A win against a team from Honduras on home soil, even if that game won’t be at Mercedes Benz Stadium, shouldn’t be too much to ask for.

Portmore United 1, Cruz Azul 2

(Smith 74′)-(Passerini 90+5′, Rodriguez 90+9′)

This game looked like a scoreless draw for 75 minutes until CCL newcomers Portmore United went ahead on a beauty of a goal from forward Rondee Smith.

Smith found himself stuck between a pair of Cruz Azul defenders in the corner of the penalty area when he lofted a shot over goalkeeper Sebastian Jurado.

Before that, Portmore had looked content with leaving Kingston with a draw before what is sure to be a beatdown back in Mexico City. They remained defensive as Cruz Azul dominated 70% of possession with very little to show for it. Portmore had defended well and continued to do so, along with some strategic time wasting, but they still couldn’t hold in for the unlikely win, or even a draw.

Lucas Passerini equalized for Cruz Azul off a fortunate deflection in the fifth minute of stoppage time to salvage a draw from a fairly drab performance. They salvaged the win when Jonathan Rodriguez got free in the penalty area and roofed a shot with the final kick of the match.


  1. LAFC played poorly across the field, but holy cow their defense is bad. They won’t be winning anything unless they upgrade multiple positions in the back. Neither goal should have happened, but then again their defense got beat enough times that Leon probably should have found some other goals.
    Despite being a decent athlete, Blackmon regularly got burned. Neither of the centerbacks are particularly good. They will both be outmuscled by Altidore-type players and outran by Martinez-type players. Jakovic in particular is an example of how MLS teams have underinvested in defense compared to other positions. Jakovich was an inadequate player 10 years ago when he played for some of the worst DC United teams in club history, but now at 34 he’s starting for a championship contender…lol, ok.

  2. Nobody is going to bring up Zimmerman being gone? Ok I will. That last goal was So o bad on sooo many levels.
    Part of me says LAFC offense can definitely score two, could have last night even …But how are they going to stop from giving up the away goal? They arent.

    • I don’t know how it is that Jovonavich(probably spelled his name wrong)continues to get signed by professional teams as a CB, he is the worst defender in MLS in my opinion and LAFC would do themselves a favor by getting a replacement in a hurry!

    • Eagles, the schedule is no excuse. SKC went to high altitude and played preseason friendlies vs Mexican opposition last year then came in all guns firing. LAFC didn’t take the competition seriously and got their rear ends handed to them. Playing high press in your first competitive game and away from home. Surprise Surprise they were gassed by halftime. This loss is on coaching.

      • scheduling of the CCL is not a excuse, but it’s absolutely a reason why teams from MLS will always struggle to keep up with teams already in full swing with their seasons! if you don’t believe there is a built in advantage then that’s a problem, as it will always benefit Mexican teams because they have a higher quality of play than MLS to begin with, so you’re essentially seeing MLS teams behind the 8ball

  3. LAFC was very disappointing. They definitely played like a team still in pre-season. So, you can expect the mistakes and bad passes. What I thought was disappointing was their decision making which was almost always bad. Both Vela and Rossi played way too much hero ball. Vela took a lot of long range shots that never had any real chance; both often took on 2 or 3 defenders which resulted in giving up the ball and then sometimes counter attacks. Often LAFC would have an attack brewing and then fail to pass to an open man and end up turning the ball over. One thing about Mexican sides is that they have such good interchange and good quick passes. LAFC had little of either. LAFC was lucky they didn’t lose by more. They are capable of so much better. Leon was not any better than a typical Mexican team in the CCL, LAFC was just bad for most of the game.

    • Well stated. Decision making. Sometimes when LAFC got out on the break, they took on defenders in 3 on 2 situations. To what end, to try ( unsuccessfully ) to get the 3 on 1 while slowing play down?


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