Tigres, Necaxa, Saprissa among past Concacaf FCWC standouts
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Tigres, Necaxa, Saprissa among past Concacaf FCWC standouts

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MIAMI, Florida For the first time ever a team from Major League Soccer (MLS) will represent Concacaf at a FIFA Club World Cup, as the Seattle Sounders from the United States will look to make a deep run at next month’s tournament in Morocco.

There have been many impressive performances from Concacaf sides at the FCWC, which will celebrate its 19th edition when things kick off on February 1.

Look no further than Tigres UANL of Mexico, who achieved the best finish ever for a Concacaf side at the FCWC when the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League winners reached the Final of the 2020 edition before narrowly falling to German giants Bayern Munich, 1-0.

It was a very successful tournament for the Liga MX side both at a team and individual level. Tigres became the first team from Concacaf to defeat a Conmebol opponent in a FCWC when they topped Brazilian club Palmeiras 1-0 in the semifinals.

Tigres FW Andre-Pierre Gignac became the first player from a Concacaf club to earn the Top Scorer Award after finishing with three goals. Gignac also earned the Silver Ball as the tournament’s second-most outstanding player, the highest distinction ever achieved by a Concacaf player at a FCWC.

On two occasions, Mexican club Monterrey finished third in the FCWC, doing so in 2012 and then seven years later in the 2019 tournament. The Rayados defeated Al Ahly of Egypt 2-0 in the Third-Place Match in 2012 and then topped Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia 4-3 in a penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw in the 2019 Third-Place Match.

MF Cesar Delgado of Monterrey twice finished as the joint-top scorer at the FCWC, scoring three goals in 2012 and then two goals a year later in the 2013 edition. Rayados GK Luis Cardenas was the star of the 2019 shootout victory by making two saves and then converting the decisive penalty that secured the Third-Place finish for the Liga MX side.

Mexican side Pachuca were also Third-Place finishers in the 2017 edition thanks to a commanding 4-1 triumph over Al-Jazira of the United Arab Emirates in the Third-Place Match.

The lone Costa Rican club to have participated in a FCWC is Deportivo Saprissa, who earned a memorable Third-Place finish in 2005 by downing Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia, 3-2, thanks to Ronald Gomez’s winning goal in the 89th minute after Alvaro Saborio had earlier bagged a brace.

MF Christian Bolanos took home an individual honor, as he was awarded the Bronze Ball as the tournament’s third-most outstanding player.

One of the most memorable campaigns by a Concacaf club in a FCWC was that of Mexican side Necaxa in the first edition of the tournament in 2000 when it was known as the FIFA Club World Championship.

The eight-team format saw Necaxa drawn into a group with European heavyweights Manchester United and Brazilian stalwarts Vasco Da Gama, along with South Melbourne of Australia. Necaxa never blinked, as they played the legendary English club to a 1-1 draw to open the tournament, followed by a commanding 3-1 win over South Melbourne and then a narrow 2-1 loss to Vasco Da Gama.

It was enough to earn Necaxa a date in the Third-Place Match with another European heavyweight, Real Madrid of Spain. After a 1-1 draw between the two clubs, Necaxa would earn a place on the podium thanks to a 4-3 penalty shootout win. Cristian Montecinos (2 goals), Agustin Delgado (2) and Alex Aguinaga (1) were the main figures for Necaxa in the tournament by scoring key goals to help Necaxa earn results against the world’s best clubs and a historic finish.