LAFC loses in the first leg against Leon in the CONCACAF Champions League final.

For all LAFCachievements in the first six seasons, the club’s trophy box is still missing one: CONCACAF Champions League crown

The team has a lot of work to do if they want to get this prize this season after losing a couple of goals in the first half in a 2-1 loss. Leon in the first game of Wednesday’s two-legged CCL final in Guanajuato, Mexico. But it could have been worse: Leon’s third goal was wiped out when Osvaldo Rodríguez was charged for a foul right before scoring a goal in stoppage time. Four minutes later Denis Buanga scored a goal for the LAFC, halving the gap his team would have to make up in the playoff return leg on Sunday at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles.

And it was a positive that coach Steve Cherundolo took home after spending most of the night watching his team lose.

“It’s kind of a lifeline,” Cherundolo said of Bouanga’s goal. “This goal gives us a chance. But by itself, this goal will not help us win the title. We need to be much better as a group.

“I think the score is very good for us. But we are experienced enough, smart enough to bounce back. We are also quite healthy. And this team knows exactly what’s at stake.”

Since the CCL is determined by the sum of goals in two games, the LAFC needs to win a rematch by scoring a goal to win overtime and scoring two goals to win the title outright. Barring that, León will be the 17th Mexican club in 18 years to win the region’s most prestigious club competition.

It would be a real comeback for the team, who were eliminated from the Liga MX playoffs in the first round, making Wednesday’s game the team’s first in 24 days. However, the rust did not show in the case of Leon, who played at height and in the 85-degree heat of the central Mexican plateau, dominated from the first whistle and took just eight minutes to hit the scoreboard.

After LAFC goaltender John McCarthy got enough of a right hand from Alfonso Alvarado’s shot to deflect it, León scored on a corner kick with captain William Tesillo with his back to goal, heading Timothy Tillman in an Angel Mena cross. at the unguarded far post. Mena then doubled the lead in first-half stoppage time with a left-foot penalty into the roof of the goal after LAFC’s Ryan Hollingshead was called up to handball a corner kick.

This is only the second time in seven CCL matches that LAFC has conceded multiple goals. And there hasn’t even been a break yet.

William Tesillo of León celebrates with teammate Adonis Frias after scoring his team's first goal against LAFC.

William Tesillo of León (left) celebrates with teammate Adonis Frias for his team’s first goal against LAFC during the first leg of the CONCACAF Championship final at the León Stadium in Guanajuato, Mexico, on Wednesday.

(Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press)

On the other hand, José Cifuentes took a shot on goal in the first minute, but LAFC didn’t take another shot for over an hour, and Stipe Bueck tested goalkeeper Leon Rodolfo Cota for the second time in the minutes It thus fell to McCarthy to keep his team in the game with five saves before Rodriguez charged into the box from the left side, jumped over defender Sergi Palencia and, in the second minute of stoppage time, shouldered a cross. Leon, which would have been an almost insurmountable advantage over the second leg.

But Guatemalan referee Walter López ruled that Rodriguez had gone through Palencia’s back and quickly disallowed the goal. Four minutes later, Mateusz Bogush made a long cross from the right flank into the center of the box for Bouangu, who redirected him into the bottom left corner and scored his seventh goal in as many CCL games, making Sunday’s LAFC challenge a lot less difficult.

“Obviously we are very disappointed with our performance tonight,” Cerundolo said. “I am 100% sure that LAFC results on Sunday will be much better. This team has shown a lot of guts to break the game and you will see a lot more of that on Sunday.”

Leon is playing in the CONCACAF final for the first time since 1993, when the tournament was called the Champions Cup, and the first MLS game was still three years away. But he has played with the LAFC in this tournament before in 2020 when he scored twice and won at home in the round of 16.

The LAFC then won the second leg 3-0 in Los Angeles, where the teams will reunite this weekend. The LAFC have lost just 14 times in 103 games at their fortress, Exposition Park, which is already sold out for Sunday.