It's only halftime, technically, of the 2018 Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal round, but it was a good week for MLS teams against Liga MX opposition. All three MLS sides in action, all facing Mexican teams, won their leg one matches.
Truth be told, the win came from a combination of good team play, individual performances from Luis Robles and Bradley Wright-Phillips, and the soccer gods smiling on them, but as MLSsoccer.com's Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle explained, the Red Bulls did what they needed to with a lead in order to walk away with an impressive road win.
The success continued on Wednesday, as Toronto FC hosted Tigres UANL at BMO Field, and after going down 1-0 in the second half to an Eduardo Vargas goal, came back to post a 2-1 win, with Jonathan Osorio hitting a timely (and audacious) backheel winner just before stoppage time.
This game was billed as the "clash of champions" and it did not disappoint. The cold weather in Toronto seemed to dull Tigres' reactions ever so slightly, but the game was fast-paced and overall it was quality soccer on both sides. And credit to TFC, for not bunkering after going a goal down, instead raising their level and finding a win on the night.
Following that, the Seattle Sounders jumped into the fray and made it a clean sweep for MLS this week, defeating Chivas of Guadalajara 1-0 at CenturyLink Field. Clint Dempsey scored the game's lone goal in the second half, and Stefan Frei had four saves on the night to get a vital clean sheet for the Sounders. The overall quality of play in this game was not quite as good as TFC-Tigres, but that won't matter much to Seattle as they prepare for the return leg.
And that brings all of this back to the rest of the story. This is the best week for MLS teams, collectively, in CCL knockout stage history, besting the quarterfinal leg 1 performances against Liga MX teams in 2013-14 for LA Galaxy (1-0 home win vs. Tijuana), Sporting KC (1-0 home win vs. Cruz Azul) and San Jose Earthquakes (1-1 home draw vs. Toluca). But how many of those teams advanced to the semifinal round? Zero.
So it was a good week for MLS teams in the CCL, but nevertheless, it's only halftime. And if the Red Bulls, TFC and Sounders want to make history, they'll have to get clinching results in the second legs next week, too.