The Guadalajara Chivas have advanced to the final of the CONCACAF Champions League – the premier tournament involving the top soccer clubs in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
They will face the MLS’ Toronto FC in a two-legged final, to be played on Tuesday, April 17 at the BMO Field in the Ontario capital and on Tuesday, April 25 at the Estadio Akron in Zapopan.
The Chivas won their two-game semi-final against the New York Red Bulls last Tuesday, while a day earlier Toronto eliminated the Guadalajara team’s great Mexico City rivals, America.
Winning the title would rescue a disappointing Liga Mx season for Chivas in which they are languishing in 15th place, with little hope of reaching the playoffs next month.
Perhaps the juiciest carrot for the Chivas players is that the winners of the Champions League qualify for the prestigious 2018 FIFA Club World Cup, in which the champions of Europe and South America both participate.
Guadalajara will start as slight favorites, although Toronto’s roster includes some big names, such as Italian Sebastian Giovinco, and Michael Bradley of the United States.
Should the Chivas win the CONCACAF trophy, expect an explosion of celebrations on the streets of Guadalajara and outlying regions, although they may not be quite as rowdy as after a Liga Mx title triumph.
Without a doubt, the Chivas are the most popular team in the country, partly because they are the only top-tier professional club to field only Mexican-born players.