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Vela, LAFC oust León in CONCACAF Champions League thriller

February 27, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela (10) celebrates the 3-0 victory against Leon at Banc of California Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Time and time again during the first two seasons of LAFC’s existence, teams traveling to Banc of California Stadium knew they were in for a fight. Thursday was another shot for the home side to make history, and that’s something Bob Bradley’s squad has done before.

A two-goal deficit in the CONCACAF Champions League? Challenge accepted. 

LAFC looked liked a completely different team than they did down in Mexico last week and rallied for a 3-0 victory (and 3-2 aggregate) over Liga MX power León.

It might have been the first home game in this competition for LAFC, but the soccer was everything they’re used to. Carlos Vela was relentless throughout and got two goals out of it. He was a bad call shy of a hat trick. 

When Tristan Blackmon filtered that ball through the area and found Vela in the 77th minute, there was a sense this comeback could actually happen (via FOX Soccer):

Two minutes later, it actually did. 

There was a little bit of luck involved, but Diego Rossi, who is used to scoring critical goals for the Black and Gold, somehow got enough lift on the ball to chip it over León keeper Rodolfo Cota and send Los Angeles into a full-blown party:

A team that lacked intensity and precision in the first leg transformed back to its normal self. Against the current No. 2 team in Mexico. In an international tournament. 

Vela and LAFC will head back to Mexico in the quarterfinals for a matchup against Cruz Azul. For those keeping track at home, that’s four of the five MLS teams that advanced to the next round. Maybe this is the year the league finally wins the CONCACAF Champions League. 

What we do know is there will be at least one more game at Banc of California Stadium, and when the ball gets rolling in L.A., you never know what’s going to happen.

Actually, most of the time you kind of do.

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