Los Angeles FC defender Tristan Blackmon (27) and forward Carlos Vela (10) congratulate forward Diego Rossi (9) on his goal. (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)
ORLANDO – Trying to topple four top Mexican clubs in a row was a bridge just a little too far for the Los Angeles Football Club Tuesday night.
LAFC could not hold onto a one-goal lead in the second half and suffered an excruciating 2-1 defeat to Tigres UANL in the Concacaf Champions League final at Exploria Stadium.
The team failed in its attempt to become the first Major League Soccer side to capture a CCL crown and the third MLS team to win a Concacaf club competition.
Tournament leading goal-scorer and MVP Andre-Pierre Gignac snapped a 1-1 deadlock in the 84th minute for the Mexican team, which won the elusive title in its fourth attempt at Concacaf glory.
Tigres also booked a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar in February.
The loss ended LAFC’s hopes and three-game winning streak against Mexican teams, having eliminated Leon, Cruz Azul and Club America. The last three matches were one-shot deals in the bubble here, so the MLS team was spared the arduous task of playing in Mexico. But a difficult task, nonetheless.
“We’re disappointed,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “It was a choppy game. The football was not always perfect, but I thought our way of going after them and pushing the game for 70 minutes was quite good.”
MLS MVP Diego Rossi, who led the league with 16 goals, tallied in the 61st minute to lift LAFC into a 1-0 edge. Mark-Anthony’s pass from the left side found Rossi on the opposite side of the box and the LA forward looped it over the goalkeeper.
We stepped up and we put pressure on them,” Bradley said. “We closed them down and put pressure on them and they had a difficult time getting forward. We felt we could push the game and try to step up and press and find moments of being able to control the game.”
Tigres equalized in the 71st minute as Hugo Ayala headed in a corner kick.
Silent for most of the game, Gignac came to life when it was needed the most as he turned a Luis Rodríguez pass into a goal on his shot from the middle of the penalty arc in the 84th minute.
It was Gignac’s sixth goal of the competition.
Mexican international striker Carlos Vela, the hero of LAFC’s semifinal win over Club America, was never a factor Tuesday night.
“Carlos took some pretty good fouls tonight,” Bradley said. “He took a lot of hard fouls tonight. I’m not sure why, at a certain point when you have a player like that, that is constantly getting fouled, it would seem that would lead to a yellow card.”