Miguel Herrera's final act as Club America manager wound up being sitting in the stands in Orlando, ejected from a match but evidently not from the premises, communicating via walkie-talkie as his side crashed out of the Concacaf Champions League.
Herrera was ousted by the Liga MX power on Monday, a couple of days after America's 3-1, histrionic-laden semifinal defeat to LAFC. In the match, LAFC's Eduard Atuesta was red carded for appearing to headbutt America goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who had gotten in his face after Atuesta had appeared to be fouled in the box, only for no penalty to be called. Ochoa greatly embellished the contact, which surely played a role in Atuesta's ejection.
Emotions boiled over at halftime, with LAFC manager Bob Bradley and his staff getting into it with Herrera and his. Herrera and LAFC assistant (and former MLS great) Ante Razov exchanged physical pleasantries, ending with Razov appearing to slap Herrera in the face. Both were sent off, but Herrera remained in the fan-less stands at Exploria Stadium, and images of him using a walkie-talkie suggested he was communicating to his assistants nevertheless.
In a statement released Monday, Concacaf banned both Herrera and Razov four games for their altercation and tacked on an extra match for Herrera for attempting to communicate to his team. Atuesta's red card, meanwhile is not able to be appealed, so he will miss the final.
"The regulations of the SCCL clearly state that referee decisions on the field are final," Concacaf wrote. "This is in line with FIFA regulations for their competitions and has been in place throughout the tournament. From an integrity perspective, the confederation cannot change the rules at this late stage of the competition. For this reason, it is not possible to overturn red cards awarded in the 2020 SCCL."
Even with LAFC down to 10 men, Carlos Vela scored twice within 90 seconds after halftime, and Latif Blessing added a late strike to give LAFC a win over a third straight Mexican foe (Leon, Cruz Azul, America). An unprecedented fourth would give the club MLS's first triumph in the modern Concacaf Champions League (though the format and timing this year have been forced to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic). LAFC is the fourth MLS team to reach the final in the modern iteration, following Real Salt Lake (2010-11), the Montreal Impact (2014-15) and Toronto FC (2018).
The loss–more specifically the manner in which it unfolded–was enough to cost Herrera his job, with America addressing its reasoning in a statement.
"The results obtained in sports-focused attitudes in the pitch do not meet the greatness of the institution, nor are they what the club's board of directors expects, much less our fans," the club wrote.
This isn't the first time an egregious act has cost Herrera, who was fired as Mexico national team coach for allegedly hitting a journalist at Philadelphia's airport in 2015 two days after El Tri won the Gold Cup.
Herrera was in his second stint with America, where he returned in 2017. He guided Las Aguilas to Liga MX's 2018 Apertura title and the Copa MX title in the 2019 Clausura.