LAFC, Club America ready for Leagues Cup Showcase at SoFi Stadium – Daily News

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Glimpses of good things to come for North American soccer will be on display Wednesday night at SoFi Stadium.

The Leagues Cup Showcase, the first soccer event at the multibillion-dollar Inglewood venue, which in June was named a host site for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, presents a pair of exhibition matches pitting Major League Soccer against Liga MX.

SoFi’s soccer story opens three years into its existence when the L.A. Galaxy take on Club Deportivo Guadalajara, followed by LAFC facing Club America for the second time.

In 2020, as Christmas approached, LAFC advanced to the championship of the CONCACAF Champions League by defeating America, 3-1, on a neutral field in Orlando, Florida. Mexican international Carlos Vela scored twice in consecutive minutes to drive LAFC’s third straight CCL win over a Liga MX side, a run that ended days later with a 2-1 loss to Tigres in the title match.

“Every time we have a game against a Mexican team, people will be excited,” Vela said. “We have to create a good experience, a good game, and a good show for them.”

Playing on recently installed grass sod rather than SoFi’s artificial turf field, the doubleheader takes place despite dimensions that are more narrow than those typically approved by FIFA. The field will be reconfigured in advance of the World Cup to account for the size discrepancy.

“It won’t be ideal but it’s the same for all four teams,” LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo said. “I’m sure it’ll be a more than playable surface and we’ll make the most of it.”

While the midweek exhibition matches don’t offer any real stakes, they do project toward next summer’s Leagues Cup, an annual, month-long tournament that includes all 47 clubs from the top two North American leagues. Three teams will earn spots into the expanded CCL tournament starting in 2024, with the winner gaining automatic entry into the Round of 16.

LAFC and America, in the midst of busy stretches, expect to rotate lineups and rest starters.

Operating atop the MLS standings nearly three-quarters of the way through the regular season, LAFC visits Salt Lake City on Saturday seeking a fifth consecutive league victory, all against Western Conference teams.

America is off to a slow start with one win in five matches on Liga MX’s Apertura calendar. Based out of the iconic Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, America added a trio of Stateside exhibitions to its slate of matches last month, losing to Chelsea and Manchester City while drawing with Real Madrid.

“Any time Club America comes here to play a game they’re going to have a lot of fans,” Cherundolo said. “It’s a historically very successful, massive club who always field an extremely competitive and high-quality team. And so the game is important to us.”

The doubleheader is considered a sell-out, according to event organizers, with 70,000 tickets sold.

LAFC’s designated supporter section will hit its capacity at 1,400.

“If we can achieve even a small percentage of the atmosphere that we have at the Banc then I think we’re doing something right and everybody around the world can look forward to future World Cup matches in that stadium,” Cherundolo said. “So we’re really looking forward to doing our part and I’m sure our fans and the 3252 will put on a great show.”

LAFC VS. CLUB AMERICA

When: Wednesday, 8:15 p.m. PT

Where: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood

TV/Radio: ESPN, Univision

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