The Daily KO - LAFC CCL 2
What you need to know

Leg one of the CCL Final tonight

Club León host LAFC tonight in leg one of the CCL Final. Kickoff is set for 10 pm ET on FS1 and TUDN. The second leg will be played on Sunday night. Here’s more on how to watch and stream.

Galaxy part ways with club president Klein

The LA Galaxy have parted ways with president Chris Klein. Head coach and sporting director Greg Vanney will continue to lead all soccer operations while reporting directly to Dan Beckerman, the president and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group.

A full Wednesday slate

In addition to the CCL Final, there’s a whole entire handful of MLS games tonight. Check out the full schedule here.

USMNT coach change

B.J. Callaghan will serve as head coach for the US men’s national team during this summer’s Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup tournaments, coinciding with Tuesday's news that interim coach Anthony Hudson has departed the program for a new opportunity.

All-Star voting now open

Voting for the Major League All-Star Game presented by Target is now open. The MLS All-Stars will take on Arsenal in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, July 19.

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It's time to vote for the 2023 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target

Online voting for the 2023 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target opened Wednesday to fans, media and players. Voting ends 11:59 PM Pacific Time on Wednesday, June 14.

To qualify for the ballot, players must have appeared in at least 50 percent of their club’s matches this season at the time the ballot was created on May 18.

League staff reviewed performance metrics from the current 2023 season to categorize players in the positions where they are most utilized. For the first time ever, fans, media and players will be asked to pick a lineup of players. All-Star nominees can be selected in seven specific positions: goalkeeper, right back, center back, left back, defensive midfielder, attacking midfielder, and forward/winger.

Non-qualifying players still eligible for the game: Players who did not qualify for the ballot are still eligible for selection by MLS All-Star head coach Wayne Rooney or Commissioner Don Garber.

Drop everything, it's time for the CCL Final

Yeah, yeah, there are other games today. But let’s be clear about our priorities. Everything that isn’t the CCL Final is the undercard. Even if you’re actively rooting for LAFC to lose. Which, man, an MLS team wins this trophy one dang time and suddenly y’all are haters the next year. That’s fine all considered, but you at least have to respect the fact that….

LAFC are on the edge of something a little more than special

Something unprecedented in fact. There have been excellent runs in MLS, but nothing quite as good as winning the Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup and CCL over the span of about six months. The fact they’re favored heading into a CCL Final is a remarkable accomplishment. If they can pull this out, there’s no real debate on which MLS team has had the best stretch in league history.

Thing is, they won’t be done after this. Regardless of the result. Dénis Bouanga isn’t going anywhere. Carlos Vela isn’t going anywhere. The core of this team isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. They might lose a couple of pieces this summer. But it’s not like they’ve missed on bringing in replacements lately. Plus, ya know, even if they miss, LAFC STILL HAVE AN OPEN DP SPOT. We probably don’t talk about that enough. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see them get that right too and go on to follow up their CCL Final run with another Shield and another Cup and maybe a Leagues Cup too. That’s just where we are with this club right now. Step back and appreciate it before you return to being livid it isn’t your team. Unless it is your team. Then congrats you lucky [incredibly redacted].

How do you approach an away leg?

Obviously, we can’t assume anything here. Yeah, LAFC are the favorites and they should be. But it’s still going to take a heckuva effort to overcome a team that allowed the fewest goals in Liga MX’s recent Clausura and took down Tigres in the CCL semifinal with a stunning comeback in the second leg. Tonight is, of course, critical.

That’s particularly true because CCL still uses the away goals rule. It’s always going to be more difficult to control the game and be on the front foot away from home, but I think if you’re LAFC here, you should be out to take full advantage of the rule. I know, I know, “score more goals” is some incredible analysis. What I’m trying to get at though is LAFC should be totally comfortable letting this game be as open as possible. Even if that opens them up to some first-leg chaos elements. A 3-3 draw is better than a 0-0 draw in this case. They have the firepower to do it, so don’t go in timid.

Although maybe LAFC should be even more frightened than normal after…

Will Timothy Tillman’s comments come back to bite him?

Oh man, a good rule of thumb in life is “no one is making you say things.” If you have the opportunity to hand your next opponent bulletin board material, you do not have to do it. LAFC’s Timothy Tillman did not have to do this:

“I think Mexican teams usually don’t play that tactical. It’s more or less emotional, very much 1-v-1. It’s all about fighting, it’s all about the emotions. Of course, they’ve got quality up front. But if we play well, I’m sure we can win over there,” Tillman said to media earlier this week.

That’s just asking for a whole lot of cosmic justice from the higher soccer powers that be. I believe generally when curses are broken they’re broken forever. MLS’ CCL curse is broken thanks to Seattle. There are no residual curse particles floating in the air from a couple of decades of MLS teams riding the struggle bus against Liga MX.

But if you want to go ahead and start a brand new curse…nothing is stopping you, right?

A couple of keys and the rest is up to a higher power

There’s only so much real analysis you can do across leagues. We know León have been relatively stingy defensively. We know LAFC have enough firepower for that not to matter. And we know game state and whoever draws first blood will likely play a major role in this first leg. If León can grab a goal early and sit in, LAFC could be in trouble. These are just the basics though. The rest of this matchup is up to random, high-variance, small sample-size bounces. The tenor and chemistry of this final could change on a dime.

Still, it feels like LAFC should get this done. That’s the level of belief they’ve inspired. It’s a rare place for an MLS team to be. Now we just have to find out if they’re up for the pressure.

Other Things

USA reach U-20 World Cup quarterfinals with New Zealand rout: The United States have reached a fourth straight quarterfinal at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, accomplishing that Tuesday afternoon with a 4-0 rout of New Zealand to maintain their perfect record at the tournament’s 2023 edition in Argentina. Head coach Mikey Varas’ team, which topped Group B and is yet to concede through the Round of 16, will face either Uruguay or Gambia on Sunday, June 4 in the quarterfinals. That to-be-determined opponent will be known by Thursday afternoon.

USMNT to face Germany, Ghana in October friendlies: The US men’s national team will play two high-profile friendlies this upcoming October to prepare for quarterfinal matches in the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League the following month, the federation announced Tuesday. The game against Germany will be held at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in Connecticut. The game against Ghana will be held at Nashville SC’s GEODIS Park.

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Good luck out there. One of y’all better get one of these dogs.