The 2020 Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals resumed Tuesday night, a long nine months after they first began.
There was little joy for MLS clubs as the first two matchups were completed, however, with Montreal Impact beating Honduras' Club Olimpia 1-0 on the night but still exiting on away goals and NYCFC bowing after a heavy defeat at the hands of Liga MX powerhouse Tigres.
Atlanta United vs. Club America
Wed., 8 pm ET | FS2, TUDN in US; TSN5 in Canada
The Five Stripes are a club in transition, but they’ll embark upon overturning a 3-0 Leg 1 deficit when resuming their fixture against Liga MX foe Club America. Atlanta didn’t make the playoffs for the first time since entering MLS in 2017, so they’ll look to rev back into gear after being idle since Decision Day presented by AT&T on Nov. 8.
There was a relaxed air to Atlanta in the buildup, though, with interim coach Stephen Glass outlining an initial goal of trying to win the game on the night and then seeing if they can overturn that sizable deficit. Winger Jurgen Damm, meanwhile, who has pretty of experience of taking on Club America during his time in Liga MX, suggested that the pressure would all be on the Mexico City giants.
"They were eliminated by their rival club in Mexico, Chivas, so they have a lot of pressure," he said in a pre-match media availability. "This tournament is one they have to win it to quit that pressure, so they are going to come with a lot of pressure to know that if they don’t win it would be not good for the club. So I think we have everything in our favor. We’ve played on that field a lot of times, we have a lot of good players, now we have [Atlanta United 2 forward] Erik Lopez also available to play.
"So I think if we trust in us like Pumas did the first year we can have a good game and we can score three goals. It’s possible, I have that feeling, so we have to have faith and to play as we know.”
LAFC vs. Cruz Azul
Wed., 10:30 pm ET | FS2, TUDN in US; TSN5 in Canada
It's not hard to see why LAFC were seen by many as the MLS team with the best chance to advance before CCL resumed this week. Unlike the other three quarterfinals, LAFC didn’t play Leg 1 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced an abrupt halt to domestic and international soccer. There’s no home-and-away setup this time, so the winner will march onto the semifinals and continue their CCL quest.
While LAFC lost in Round One of the playoffs against eventual Western Conference champions Seattle Sounders, the time off could lift a team that's arguably healthier now than it has been since the competition was suspended back in Match. Bradley Wright-Phillips may not be with the team but their attack will be led by the formidable fit-again trio of 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela, 2020 MLS Golden Boot winner Diego Rossi and Uruguay international regular Brian Rodriguez.
Added to that, LAFC have already knocked off one Liga MX side this tournament, with a sensational comeback win over Club Leon, and so won't be daunted by the task of taking out a second in Cruz Azul.