The sounds of the 3252 cascaded into a night’s sky backlit by downtown Los Angeles.
At midfield, one team celebrated. The other’s season was over, one match short of reaching the MLS Cup final.
As the team wearing opposing colors hugged and danced on stage and the stadium’s speakers tried desperately to broadcast the presentation of the Western Conference trophy, the Supporters in Black & Gold persisted. Louder and louder they serenaded the home side. A chorus of drums kept a relentless beat.
“It was really the 3252 refusing to go quietly into the night. They continued to roar. And then they roared louder and then they roared louder,” Tom Penn said in a State of the Club interview weeks later.
“I remember in the building just being moved by that. It was so impressive to me and I was just so proud to be associated with that spirit. I feel like we need to take that spirit in the organization and thrive off that, feed off that. Which we’ve done because we just keep on rolling.”
The stadium exits and the season’s end couldn’t have been further the Supporters’ minds. Win, lose, or draw, they support before, during, and after the final whistle. They are both figuratively and literally the heartbeat of Los Angeles Football Club and a pillar of which the Club ascended to the top of the MLS record books in 2019 and captured its first trophy.
On December 9, LAFC's road to the Concacaf Champions League trophy will be revealed. When the competition kicks off in February of 2020, the entire continent will experience that undying support firsthand.
And if all goes well, a debut on the world’s stage won’t be far behind.
Vying For Regional Supremacy – What Is The Concacaf Champions League
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for us as a Club in our third year to have achieved Champions League qualification - which was a big target of ours. I’m really excited to see what our group can show our whole region, having done so in MLS.” – John Thorrington
The Concacaf Champions League is an international competition featuring the top clubs from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
The top teams from around the continent qualify for the international tournament by winning their domestic leagues and cup competitions or via regional qualifying competitions like the Concacaf League.
In all, 230 teams from all across North America compete for the right to play in the Concacaf Champions League. Just the top 16 teams qualify for the CCL draw on December 9 in Mexico City.
At the draw, the 16 teams are arranged in head-to-head matchups in a bracket-style competition that begins in February of 2020 with the Round of 16.
Best Of The Best - 2020 Concacaf Champions League Competitors
Eight countries from around the continent will be represented in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League. The tournament's breakdown by country and how they qualified is below:
LAFC - 2019 Supporters' Shield champions
Seattle Sounders - 2019 MLS Cup champions
Atlanta United - 2019 U.S. Open Cup champions
New York City FC - 2019 Eastern Conference regular-season champions
Club América - 2018 Apertura champions
Tigres UANL - 2019 Clausura champions
Cruz Azul - 2018 Apertura runners-up
León - 2019 Clausura runners-up
Montreal Impact - 2019 Canadian Championship champions
Portmore United - 2019 Concacaf Carribean Cup Championship champion
Saprissa - 2019 Concacaf League champions
San Carlos - 2019 Concacaf League qualifier
Comunicaciones - 2019 Concacaf League qualifier
Alianza - 2019 Concacaf League qualifier
Motagua - 2019 Concacaf League qualifier
Olimpia - 2019 Concacaf League qualifier
**UPDATED BRACKET (as of 3/12/20)
Survive And Advance – How The Tournament Works
“We have to be at our best. This idea that we continue to take the exciting moments of football that we produce and balance them with a little bit more experience and a little bit more know-how. I don’t think you can be naive and win the Concacaf Champions League. You’ve got to be confident in your football but you got to also know that on certain days that experienced decision making and that little bit of extra savvy all come into play.” – Bob Bradley
The Concacaf Champions League consists of four rounds starting with the Round of 16 in February of 2020 and ending with the final in early May.
In each round, two teams face each other in a home-and-away knockout format. The team with the most combined goals at the end of both legs advances. If teams finish both legs with the same number of goals, the team with the most away goals in the round advances. In the final, a penalty shootout determines the winner if both teams are level on aggregate score and away goals at the end of both matches.
Ultimately, the tournament’s winner will face the champions of the world’s other five confederations, including the UEFA Champions League winner, in the 2020 FIFA World Club Cup.
Be The First – The History Of MLS Teams In The Competition
“A globally recognized football brand. To do that, you need to win locally. So we checked that box with the Supporters’ Shield. We came up short with MLS Cup. We need to go win MLS Cup, we know that. That’s a clearly stated goal. And then try to be the first American team ever to win Champions League. That puts you in the region as the best among the best. Then there is this notion of representing Los Angeles in the global football landscape." – Tom Penn
The Concacaf Champions League has been an obsession of MLS teams since its formation in 2008.
Three MLS sides have reached the final of the tournament. But all failed at the hands of Liga MX opponents.
MLS’ neighbors to the south have dominated the tournament. A side from Liga MX has won the past 11 tournaments. And thus, Mexico has been the Concacaf region’s representative at the FIFA Club World Cup 11 years running.
In its first foray into the tournament, LAFC hopes to reverse Liga MX’s stranglehold on the CCL trophy. The Black & Gold can make history both domestically and internationally:
Become the first MLS side to be named Concacaf Champions League winners and represent the league and Los Angeles against the very best from Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America on the world’s stage at the Club World Cup.