Liga MX powerhouse Tigres UANL took home the Campeones Cup trophy on Wed., Sept. 27, after edging out MLS Cup winners LAFC in penalty kicks.
After two red cards and a controversial disallowed goal, the game ended in a scoreless draw and headed directly to penalty kicks. Tigres keeper Nahuel Guzman (of circus trick fame) blocked two LAFC shots, first from Timothy Tillman and then defender Ryan Hollingshead, while Tigres converted all four.
LAFC were no doubt looking for a morale-boosting win having won only one of their five previous matches, but LAFC manager Steve Cherundolo insisted his team is in a good place and are “still hungry” for more wins.
“The implementation of our plan was near to perfect,” he said post-match. “I’m proud of the performance.”
Despite the scoreless game, there were some bright spots, including LAFC’s newer addition, Uruguayan attacker Cristian Olivera and another start for keeper Maxime Crepeau, making his way back after a dramatic MLS Cup injury last season.
LAFC lead scorer Denis Bouanga nearly had a remarkable goal in the 78’, but it was called back by center referee Drew Fischer after an apparent in-motion pass from Giorgio Chiellini on a set-play restart.
When questioned about the officiating, Cherundolo expressed disapproval of inconsistent calls and yellow cards, one of which led to a second yellow for Diego Palacios in the 63’. (Tigres' Rafael Carioca was also shown a straight red in the 85').
“My biggest fears came true and they usually do with CONCACAF referees in these competitions,” said Cherundolo. “Sure enough Drew and his crew came up tonight big and, um, yeah decided this game, which is a shame for fans and the players because we didn’t deserve that.”
The matchup took place at LAFC home base BMO Stadium, which drew over 20,000 attendees despite the cup being one of the lesser known mid-season events of the year. The win marks Tigres’ second win against LAFC in a championship final.
LAFC currently sit second in the Western Conference, and are approaching the end of regular season play. They next face Real Salt Lake at home on Oct. 1.