Major League Soccer

How MLS clubs have fared in Concacaf Champions League finals

Chris Smith
A look back at the Concacaf Champions League finals.
A look back at the Concacaf Champions League finals. / Refugio Ruiz/GettyImages

The Seattle Sounders are looking to make history for Major League Soccer as they take on Pumas UNAM in the Concacaf Champions League final.

No team from MLS has won the trophy since it's rebrand in 2008, with Liga MX clubs exclusively dominating.

The Sounders might be the ones to finally turn the tide, and they're certainly equipped to do so. But they're not the first to try. So, before Brian Schmetzer's men take the plunge, let's take a look at the other four CCL finals involving MLS teams:

1. Monterrey vs Real Salt Lake (2011)

RSL suffered heartbreak in 2011.
RSL suffered heartbreak in 2011. / Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake were at the peak of their powers between 2009 and 2014, never dropping below fifth in the overall standings, winning an MLS Cup title, and reaching three other major finals.

One of those was the CCL final in 2011 where they came up against Mexican powerhouse and tournament experts Monterrey.

RSL gave a brilliant account of themselves and even came from behind twice to leave Monterrey with a 2-2 draw in the first leg, with Nat Borchers and Javier Morales scoring on the night.

But it wasn't enough, with Humberto Andres Suazo scoring the only goal of the second leg at Rio Tinto Stadium to seal a 3-2 aggregate win.

This was the first time an MLS team had reached the CCL final post-2008 rebrand, and in any form since the LA Galaxy's triumph in 2000.

Result: Monterrey 3-2 Real Salt Lake

2. Club America vs Montreal Impact (2015)

Club America were pushed all the way by the Montreal Impact.
Club America were pushed all the way by the Montreal Impact. / Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

MLS had to wait another four years to see a team in the final, with CF Montreal (then known as the Montreal Impact) topping Group 3 unbeaten before seeing off Pachuca and Alajuelense in some dramatic knockout ties.

The final against Club America was played out in similar fashion, with Montreal taking an early lead at the famous Estadio Azteca through Pablo Piatti but Oribe Peralta's 88th-minute equalizer kept things in the balance for the second leg.

Back at the Olympic Stadium in front of over 61,000 people, Montreal once again went ahead early with Andres Romero scoring after just eight minutes. But Club America proved their longstanding class in this region, scoring four goals in the second half to put the game out of sight; John McInerney's late strike was nothing but a consolation for the Canadian side.

Gutsy and brave, but another failure for Major League Soccer.

Result: Club America 5-3 Montreal Impact

3. Toronto FC vs Chivas (2018)

Chivas v Toronto FC: CONCACAF Champions League 2018 - Final - Leg 2
TFC suffered penalty shootout heartbreak in 2018. / Refugio Ruiz/GettyImages

If any of Major League Soccer's CCL final defeats hurt the most, it's this one.

Toronto FC came in fresh from winning an MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield, and Canadian Championship treble a year prior, and had already knocked out Mexican powerhouses Tigres and Club America en route to the final.

The first leg at BMO Field didn't go to plan, with Jonathan Osorio's 19th-minute goal sandwiched either side of strikes from Chivas' Alan Pulido and Rodolfo Pizarro.

But TFC were heroic in the return, recovering from an early Chivas goal and drawing back level on aggregate before half-time through Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco.

An excruciating period of extra-time followed before Chivas broke Toronto hearts on penalties 4-2, with local lad Osorio and Michael Bradley missing their spot-kicks.

This Toronto FC side were the best in MLS to reach a CCL final and the closest anyone has come yet to breaking the Liga MX stranglehold.

Result: Toronto FC 3 (2) - (4) 3 Chivas

4. Tigres vs LAFC (2020)

Bob Bradley
LAFC collapsed late against Tigres in 2020. / Alex Menendez/GettyImages

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 Concacaf Champions League final was a single-legged affair played behind closed doors at Orlando City's Exploria Stadium.

But that didn't take away any joy from Tigres finally winning CCL after final defeats in 2016, 2017, and 2019. Nor did it ease the pain for LAFC, who came within 18 minutes of a historic title.

Diego Rossi gave the Black and Gold the lead in the 61st minute after a tense opening hour. And in truth, LAFC could have been out of sight long before Hugo Ayala's 72nd-minute equalizer, fluffing a number of chances.

But that was a punch that knocked LAFC sideways and in the 84th minute, none other than Andre-Pierre Gignac stepped up to give Tigres their long-awaited triumph in this competition.

This night remains a painful one in LAFC and MLS history and serves as a warning to the Sounders this time that a final against Liga MX opposition is never done until the whistle blows.

Result: Tigres 2-1 LAFC