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What you need to know

Crew compete in Concacaf Champions Cup final tonight

Columbus are one win away from becoming the second team in MLS history to win a modern Concacaf Champions title. They take on Pachuca tonight at 9:15 pm ET on FS1 and TUDN.


In addition to the Champions Cup final, there’s a busy MLS slate tonight. Take a look at the schedule here.

LA Galaxy sign Puig to contract extension

The LA Galaxy have signed midfielder Riqui Puig to a new contract through the 2027 season. Puig, 24, is one of LA's three Designated Players alongside wingers Gabriel Pec and Joseph Paintsil. The Spanish No. 10 originally joined LA in August 2022 on a free transfer from FC Barcelona.

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Yet another Crewsletter for the biggest game of the year

I don’t have any more nice things to say about the Crew. In fact, the only mean thing I can say right now is they haven’t won a Concacaf Champions Cup yet. That could change in a few hours. If you have read The Daily Kickoff at all over the past few months, you should be well aware of how often it’s turned into a Crewsletter. We’ve just straight up run out of ways to say Wilfried Nancy’s ability to get buy-in on his hyper-detailed tactical style is remarkable and the roster built by general manager Tim Bezbatchenko is one of the best in the league despite Columbus, Ohio not exactly being Los Angeles or Miami.

It’s all kind of just about the most remarkable thing a team has done in MLS. A perfect storm of smart roster building, high-level coaching that maximizes that roster’s potential and moments that have instilled total belief on an organizational level that the Crew are never out of a game or overmatched. You know all this by now.

The Crew will need every bit of their best traits tonight, though. It’s not just a trip to Mexico - we know how that normally ends for MLS sides that aren’t the Crew - it’s a single-elimination matchup against a team that’s bulldozed their way through this competition. In particular, Pachuca’s 6-0 obliteration of Philadelphia in the Round of 16 stands out to me as the most impressive performance of the tournament. We’d never seen that Union side get folded up and stuffed into a locker like that. They slugged Philly so hard the Union still haven’t recovered. Striker Salomón Rondón scored a hat trick in that one and looked something close to unstoppable on the night. Los Tuzos followed up their win over the Union with a similarly vicious 7-1 aggregate beatdown of Herediano before taking on Club América and earning a 3-2 aggregate win in the semifinals.

They have serious firepower in attack and finished second in Liga MX in goals scored in the Clausura. They may not be outstanding defensively, but there’s always a chance they come out and blitz Columbus early and even the Crew can’t catch up in the end. Oh, and did we mention Pachuca as a club have been in a Concacaf Champions final five times and have never lost?

It’s yet another uphill battle. The Crew should be used to it by now, though. They didn’t blink when they went down early at Tigres and didn’t blink when they needed to hold onto a lead at CF Monterrey. They won’t be overwhelmed by the moment. It’s just a matter of whether or not they’ll be somewhere near their best tonight. In particular, it’s fair to wonder if we’ll see the best version of Cucho Hernández. The Crew’s best player has missed the last couple of matches. It’s seemed largely precautionary, but there’s a chance, even with some additional rest, he’s not at 100%. They may not need him to be. But it sure would help.

In the end, no matter what happens, this version of the Crew should be viewed as a legendary team in MLS history. Only a few teams have ever made it to a Concacaf Champions Cup final and even fewer have done it while holding onto MLS Cup. If they can pull this off, they’ll be the first team to hold both trophies simultaneously. It may be a long, long time before we see that again.

Either way, appreciate it while you can. But, to be frank, even though we’re out of nice things to say, we’d much rather get one more result worth writing an entire newsletter about.

And Other Things

FC Cincinnati's Acosta named MLS Player of the Month: FC Cincinnati captain Luciano Acosta has been named MLS Player of the Month for May 2024. The reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP led the league with eight goal contributions (three goals, five assists) during the month of May, while his five assists were tied for first during this span. Acosta also made club history by recording a goal contribution over nine consecutive matches, becoming just the eighth player in MLS history to reach at least 10 assists in four straight seasons.

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Good luck out there. Aim for the biggest prize.