No matter who advances from tonight’s all-MLS Concacaf Champions League semifinal, they will host the second leg of the final in early May. Pumas UNAM clinched their spot in the final thanks to a 0-0 draw against Cruz Azul on Tuesday after winning the first leg 2-1 last week. It was a historic result for Pumas, who have never played in a CCL final, but they did lose starting centerback Arturo Ortiz to a red card, which means he’ll miss the first leg of the final.
As it was for the semifinals, the order of the two finals legs are determined by points gained in previous rounds. Thanks to the Pumas result, they can not finish with more points than either Seattle or NYCFC. They are currently tied with the Sounders on 11 points, but the first tiebreaker is goal-difference, where the Sounders have a five-goal advantage. The Sounders hold a 3-1 aggregate-goal advantage in tonight’s semifinal and can only advance with a result that maintains a goal-difference lead over Pumas. NYCFC have just nine points so far, but can only advance with a win, which would give them 12 total points.
CCL points standings
Hosting the second leg brings with it the possibility of effectively playing a one-off championship game in front of their home fans, and there also seems to be a slight sporting advantage. MLS teams have won just 4 of 32 series against Liga MX opponents when they host the first leg, but have won 7 of 21 when finishing up at home, according to research by Jonathan Yardley.
MLS teams have twice before hosted the second leg in the CCL final. RSL went home tied 2-2 against Monterrey in 2011 only to fall 1-0 in the second leg. In 2015, Montreal tied Cruz Azul 1-1 in the first leg, but lost 4-2 at home in the second leg.
Neither the Sounders nor NYCFC have previously played in a CCL final.
It will be Pumas’ first trip to the continental championship round since they lost to Saprissa in the precursor to CCL, the Concacaf Cup, in 2005. That also marked the last time a team from outside Liga MX won the title. Pumas have won the title three times, most recently in 1989.