Los Angeles FC fans paid tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant before Thursday night's Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 game at Banc of California Stadium against Club Leon.
Then, the Major League Soccer team channeled Kobe's famous "Mamba Mentality" for a historic win.
Prior to the game, LAFC's supporter's section — known as the 3252 — unveiled a giant tifo that was a photo recreation of Kobe and Gianna in purple and gold colors with the words "Kobe & Gigi Forever" underneath. Fans in the section also held up white cards against a purple background for Kobe's numbers with the Los Angeles Lakers, 8 and 24.
Kobe & Gigi. ?? pic.twitter.com/yu0dDiFzf1
LAFC's Carlos Vela also wore a captain's armband with a tribute to the nine people who died in the helicopter crash just outside of Calabasas, California, on the morning of Jan. 26.
Mamba Mentality. #LAFCpic.twitter.com/vJWEvSCdwm
Facing a two-goal deficit enter the second leg of the matchup against one of the top teams in Mexico's Liga MX, LAFC pulled off an inspiring 3-0 victory to advance in the regional club tournament. The three-goal scoreline was significant. Club Leon won the first leg, 2-0, in Mexico last Tuesday. LAFC needed at least three goals — and not let Club Leon score — to advance on aggregate. Vela scored twice and Diego Rossi provided the dramatic game-winner.
COMEBACK COMPLETE! ?
Diego Rossi makes it 3-0 on the night, and 3-2 @LAFC on aggregate! pic.twitter.com/i0wMzfozZ5
LAFC is coming off one of the best regular seasons in MLS history, but were knocked out of the playoffs in the Western Conference final by the eventual MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders. Still, LAFC enters 2020 as a heavy favorite to win MLS Cup.
The team will have little time to savor the epic victory. David Beckham's expansion team, Inter Miami CF, will visit Banc of California Stadium for the MLS regular-season opener on Sunday.
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