2018 CONCACAF Champions League Finals
The 2018 CONCACAF Champions League Finals were the final round of the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League, the championship for association football clubs in CONCACAF, representing North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The 2018 edition was the tenth edition of the CONCACAF Champions League under its current name and first since being re-organized into a single-year tournament.
|Event||2018 CONCACAF Champions League|
Guadalajara won 4–2 on penalties
|Date||April 17, 2018|
|Venue||BMO Field, Toronto|
|Man of the Match||Rodolfo Pizarro (Guadalajara)|
|Referee||Ricardo Montero (Costa Rica)|
2 °C (36 °F)
|Date||April 25, 2018|
|Venue||Estadio Akron, Guadalajara|
|Man of the Match||Rodolfo Cota (Guadalajara)|
|Referee||Óscar Moncada (Honduras)|
27 °C (81 °F)
The final was contested in a two-legged series between Toronto FC from Canada and Guadalajara from Mexico. The first leg was hosted in Toronto on April 17, 2018, at the BMO Field in Toronto, while the second leg was hosted in Guadalajara on April 25, 2018, at the Estadio Akron in Guadalajara. Guadalajara won the final 4–2 in a penalty shootout after the series was tied 3–3 on aggregate. As a result, they earned the right to represent CONCACAF at the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup, entering at the second round.
In the following table, finals until 2008 were in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup era, since 2009 were in the CONCACAF Champions League era.
|Team||Zone||Previous finals appearances (bold indicates winners)|
|Toronto FC||North America (NAFU)||None|
|Guadalajara||North America (NAFU)||3 (1962, 1963, 2007)|
Toronto's BMO Field, with a seating capacity of 30,000, hosted the first leg of the final; it opened in 2007 and was renovated in 2016. The second leg took place in Guadalajara at the Estadio Akron, which opened in 2010 and has a capacity of 48,071. The two stadiums hosting the finals are also candidates for the 2026 FIFA World Cup bid shared between Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
The CONCACAF Champions League was established in 2008 as the continental championship for football clubs in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, succeeding the CONCACAF Champions' Cup. During its first nine editions, the Champions League consisted of a group stage in summer and autumn followed by a knockout stage during the following spring. Beginning with the 2018 edition of the tournament, the group stage was re-formed as the CONCACAF League and limited to Central American and Caribbean teams. The Champions League was shortened to a two-month knockout tournament between teams from North American and major Central American nations, as well as the winner of the CONCACAF League. The knockout tournament falls within the beginning of Major League Soccer's season, which operates on a summer schedule unlike other football leagues.
Toronto FC were appearing in their first final, and were the second Canadian team to have reached the final after Montreal Impact finished as runners-up in 2015. Only four teams from Major League Soccer (three American, one Canadian) on five occasions had managed to reach the final of the Champions League or the Champions' Cup. In addition to Montreal Impact, LA Galaxy (in 1997) and Real Salt Lake (in 2011) had previously lost in the final. D.C. United (in 1998) and LA Galaxy (in 2000) were the only two MLS teams to have won the competition, doing so during the Champions' Cup era. Of these five finals, four were against Mexican opponents, with only D.C. United managing to win.
Guadalajara had previously appeared in three finals, all in the Champions' Cup era. They won the inaugural edition in 1962, before finishing second the following year after withdrawing from the final. Guadalajara appeared in their next final 44 years later in 2007, losing to fellow Mexican club Pachuca on penalties. Mexican teams were the most successful in the history of the Champions League/Champions' Cup, with a total of 12 teams having won a combined 33 titles. Mexican teams had appeared in every final since 2005, and won every tournament since 2006. There had been a total of eleven all-Mexican finals, all since 2002, including the previous two finals.
Road to the finalsEdit
Note: In all results below, the score of the finalist is given first (H: home; A: away).
|Opponent||Agg.||1st leg||2nd leg||Opponent||Agg.||1st leg||2nd leg|
|Colorado Rapids||2–0||2–0 (A)||0–0 (H)||Round of 16||Cibao||7–0||2–0 (A)||5–0 (H)|
|UANL||4–4 (a)||2–1 (H)||2–3 (A)||Quarter-finals||Seattle Sounders FC||3–1||0–1 (A)||3–0 (H)|
|América||4–2||3–1 (H)||1–1 (A)||Semi-finals||New York Red Bulls||1–0||1–0 (H)||0–0 (A)|
Toronto FC qualified for the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League as winner of the 2016 and 2017 editions of the Canadian Championship. The berth was originally going to be determined via a play-off match in August 2017 between the winners of the two tournaments had another team won either edition, due to the restructuring of the Champions League. Toronto had appeared in four prior Champions Leagues, finishing as high as the semi-finals in 2011–12, losing to eventual runners-up Santos Laguna. The team also won the 2017 MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield, completing MLS's first ever domestic treble, but could not qualify for the Champions League through either because the berths were designated for a team from the United States. Ironically, Toronto's coach, assistant coach, and several starting players were previous part of Chivas USA, an MLS team affiliated and wholly owned by Guadalajara.
Toronto was placed into Pot 1 and drawn against fellow MLS club Colorado Rapids in the Round of 16. Toronto played the first leg away in Commerce City, Colorado on February 20, winning 2–0 during the coldest ever match involving MLS teams, measured at 3 °F (−16 °C) at kickoff and −16 °F (−27 °C) with wind chill. The team advanced into the quarter-finals with a 0–0 draw at home in Toronto, winning the series 2–0 on aggregate. Toronto played Mexican champions Tigres UANL in the quarter-finals and won the home leg 2–1 on a late goal from Jonathan Osorio. The team took a 2–1 lead in the away leg, but two goals from André-Pierre Gignac gave Tigres a 3–2 win and a 4–4 aggregate tie. Toronto advanced on away goals, becoming one of two MLS teams to advance to the semi-finals.
Toronto hosted the first leg of the semi-finals against Club América on April 3, winning 3–1 after two unanswered goals in the 44th and 58th minutes. The match included a half-time altercation between Toronto and América players, in which América coach Miguel Herrera accused Toronto Police of assaulting his players. To prepare for the away leg at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Toronto moved a league fixture and spent several days acclimating to the altitude in Pachuca. In the away leg, Toronto took an early lead in the 12th minute, but América equalized on a last-minute penalty, bringing the aggregate score to 4–2. Toronto became the third Major League Soccer team and second Canadian team to advance to a Champions League final, following Real Salt Lake in 2011 and the Montreal Impact in 2015.
C.D. Guadalajara, also known as Chivas, qualified for the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League as winner of the 2017 Clausura in Liga MX. The 2018 tournament was the team's second under the current Champions League format, having finished in the group stage in 2012–13. Under manager Matías Almeyda, Chivas has advanced to seven finals in various tournaments since 2015.
Guadalajara was drawn with Cibao FC, winners of the 2017 CONCACAF League, in the Round of 16. The team stayed in Puerto Plata, approximately 45 miles (72 km) from the stadium in Santiago de los Caballeros, due to a tobacco growers' conference that filled available hotel space. Guadalajara won the first leg in the Dominican Republic by a 2–0 margin and the second leg 5–0. In the quarter-finals, Guadalajara played the Seattle Sounders FC of MLS and lost the first leg 1–0 away in Seattle. The return leg remained scoreless until the second half, which saw three goals from Chivas to win the match 3–0. Chivas advanced to the finals on a 1–0 aggregate win over the New York Red Bulls in the semi-finals. Isaác Brizuela scored the lone goal of the series in the first leg, played in Guadalajara, while the second leg in New Jersey ended scoreless.
The finals were played in a home-and-away two-legged series, with the team with the better performance in previous rounds hosting the second leg.
|2||Toronto FC||6||3||2||1||10||6||+4||11||1st leg|
Both legs of the finals were broadcast in English on TSN2 in Canada and in Spanish on Univision Deportes in the United States, where it was also aired on sister station UniMás. Fox Sports broadcast in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Go90 also streamed the games in English in the United States.
The first leg was hosted in Toronto at BMO Field, where the kickoff temperature was 1 °C (34 °F) and snow flurries fell through the match. Prior to the match, the new Champions League trophy was unveiled by CONCACAF officials.
Chivas took the lead in the second minute on a goal scored by Rodolfo Pizarro, during an attack that originated from a throw-in by Isaác Brizuela, who assisted Pizarro's goal. Toronto's Jonathan Osorio scored the equalizing goal in the 19th minute, finishing an attack started by Marky Delgado deep in the midfield. Toronto took control of possession and shooting chances through to halftime, but failed to score after two saves by Chivas's backup goalkeeper Miguel Jiménez. During the first half, Toronto's Jozy Altidore vomited several times on the pitch — the cause being a "stomach bug" that several players received in the semifinals against Club América. Chivas regained partial control of the match in the second half, alternating attacks with Toronto as both teams sought to take the lead. Chivas scored the match's winning goal in the 72nd minute on a free kick by Alan Pulido, which was misread by goalkeeper Alex Bono and ended up in the far side of the goal. Toronto failed to finish in its later attacks, which also included a no-call penalty for an alleged foul on Sebastian Giovinco.
|Shots on target||13||7|
The second leg was hosted in Guadalajara at Estadio Akron on April 25. Toronto fielded some midfielders and wingbacks in defensive roles due to injuries, including captain Michael Bradley and right back Gregory van der Wiel; midfielder Víctor Vázquez returned from injury to start the match. Chivas extended their aggregate lead to 3–1 on a goal scored by Orbelín Pineda in the 19th minute. Toronto responded with two goals in the 25th and 44th minutes by Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, bringing the series level on aggregate. The 2–1 lead for Toronto held through to the end of the second half, despite chances from both teams, including a missed shot by Toronto's Marky Delgado. The final was decided in a penalty shootout, which was won 4–2 by Guadalajara after four rounds. All four of Chivas's penalty takers scored, while Toronto's Jonathan Osorio and Michael Bradley both missed.
|Shots on target||8||3|
Guadalajara's win was the thirteenth consecutive Champions League or Champions' Cup title won by a Mexican team. As a result, Guadalajara qualified for the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup as CONCACAF's representative.
Toronto FC's Jonathan Osorio and Sebastian Giovinco won the tournament's Golden Boot and Golden Ball, respectively. Guadalajara's Rodolfo Cota and Rodolfo Pizarro won the tournament's Golden Glove and the Best Young Player, respectively.
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