While the CONCACAF Champions League might not be as globally revered as its European counterpart, the chance to be named the best on the continent and go to the FIFA Club World Cup is still an alluring prospect. Will the Philadelphia Union or LAFC be able to go all the way? Here are our 2023 CONCACAF Champions League predictions for the semi-finals.
2023 CONCACAF Champions League predictions
Down to the last four, there is no restriction on teams from the same nation meeting one another. Both semi-final ties are indeed domestic affairs as Philadelphia Union and LAFC face-off home and away in the coming weeks, ensuring that there will be a Major League Soccer team in the final. The other match is a Liga MX tie contested between Tigres UANL and Leon.
2022 MLS Cup final re-run
Outrageously, Los Angeles FC and Philadelphia Union meet in another high-stakes game after that enthralling 2022 MLS Cup final. Whether or not 2023 CONCACAF Champions League predictions can be based on that game back in November is up for debate, yet what is certain is that the teams will rise to the occasion.
LAFC’s Denis Bouanga scored a hat-trick against Austin FC (and overall start to 2023) which has got some pundits stating he could become one of the best MLS players this season. Considering his form and Philadelphia’s slow start to the campaign, most Philadelphia Union vs LAFC preview pieces will put LAFC as the favorites before a ball has been kicked.
Given that LAFC has not existed for a long time, meetings between the two franchises are limited in number. Out of the five meetings, a winner has not been produced in 90 minutes in the last four. These teams can push each other to new limits. Of course, the mental edge goes to the Californian club having romped away with the MLS Cup in their last meeting.
Dániel Gazdag is still an integral part of the Union attacking threat and has enjoyed games with LAFC having scored against them twice before. He and his manager Jim Curtin will have to make the most of the home advantage in the first leg. This is because BMO Stadium has become a fortress of late for LAFC as they have statistically one of the best home form records in MLS – winning all of its first three games there.
Chances for the MLS team in the final?
Classically, MLS teams in the Champions League have struggled. Therefore all 2023 CONCACAF Champions League predictions must observe that just one MLS team has won the competition in the last 20 years. That was Seattle Sounders last year who defeated Pumas UNAM 5-2 on aggregate. Mexico has enjoyed a death grip on the trophy with a Liga MX team winning every edition between 2006 and 2021.
Regardless of whichever MLS team makes it through, both Liga MX sides will want to be bestowed the honor to be named as the team which brought the continental glory back to Mexico.
Tigres UANL isn’t just that team that pays a 37-year-old André-Pierre Gignac, but a club with tangible success at this level. Tigres won this competition in 2020; even if their current league form is at odds having lost four games in a row between mid-March and early April.
Club Leon by comparison has never won the CONCACAF Champions League before. That hasn’t stopped them from breaking American hearts, however. The 2021 Leagues Cup was Seattle’s to win, yet Leon came back from a goal down to lift the trophy. The antagonist that day was Ángel Mena, who still turns out for the team. Could he be the villain again against either LAFC or Philadelphia Union?