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Vela leads 10-man LAFC to CONCACAF Champions League final


Bob Bradley, take a bow.

Down a man and a goal at halftime, Bradley’s LAFC is now one win away from becoming the first Major League Soccer side to win the CONCACAF Champions League after knocking off Club America 3-1 on Saturday in Florida.

LAFC will meet Tigres in the final on Tuesday. The winner heads to the FIFA Club World Cup in early February.

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Sebastian Caceres had put America up 1-0 when Eduard Atuesta was shown a straight red card before the break -- admittedly a big loss for the final.

But Carlos Vela scored twice in two minutes to put the MLS side on top in the 47th minute. A straight red to Luis Reyes of America leveled the teams at 10 men and Latif Blessing scored in second-half stoppage time to salt away the spot in the final.

Here’s Bradley on Vela, from

“He does everything to help you manage a difficult team,” Bradley said of Vela. “He’s a great guy and an amazing player. He scores great goals, his ability. He is strong and has great balance and is not afraid of contact. We are lucky to have him around and you can tell he is really committed right now.”

Despite being down a man, LAFC had 49 percent of the ball and matched America in shots.

The tournament is being staged in Orlando, where LAFC beat Cruz Azul in the semifinal. They knocked Leon out of the tournament in February and are the first MLS side to beat three Liga MX teams in the tournament.

The 2000 LA Galaxy and 1998 DC United sides won when the competition was still the Champions Cup, but only four MLS sides have made the final In the Champions League era (2008-present): Real Salt Lake, Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, and now LAFC.

In a first winner-take-all, one-legged final, Bradley’s team can make history.

Follow @NicholasMendola