Home Global Game CONCACAF Reds off to hot start in CONCACAF Champions League despite frosty conditions

Reds off to hot start in CONCACAF Champions League despite frosty conditions


The temperature at kickoff was a slightly nippy -19 C with the wind chill (and, as Canadians, we always include the wind chill). But, even though the frozen pitch was their own, the Colorado Rapids were the team that never heated up.

Toronto FC was, by a wide margin, the livelier team, and got two well-deserved road goals. A 2-0 result in the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 first leg gives the Reds a commanding advantage heading home for next week’s second match. It’ll be pretty cold at BMO Field, but there’s no doubt the atmosphere will be festive.

Colorado actually had the best chance in the first half of Tuesday’s game; Dominique Badji got behind the Reds’ backline and only had keeper Alex Bono to beat. But Badji’s one-on-one attempt was something we’d expect out of a central defender, not a centre forward. He went right up the middle with his shot, basically putting it right at the keeper.

The Rapids gave up the opening goal, as their defenders were caught cold and flat-footed by some decent play by the Reds. Sebastian Giovinco — you know, the guy who’s TFC’s all-time leading scorer — had the ball at the top of box, then laid it off to Marky Delgado, who then pushed the ball over to Jozy Altidore. Meanwhile, Giovinco drifted over to the right side of the penalty area, and no Rapid seemed to notice. He was left all alone out there. But Altidore noticed. He sent the ball to Giovinco, who had time and space to loft a cross into the box.

Keeper Tim Howard — a member of the rare Designated Player-goalie club — remained rooted to his goal line. No Rapid picked up TFC’s Jonathan Osorio in the box. As the Canadian leaped to head TFC into the lead, Howard finally took a step off the line to flap at the ball.

The Rapids had plenty of men in the box, but couldn’t cover anyone.

It was more of the same for TFC’s second goal. Auro, making his TFC debut at fullback, was able to lift a cross into the box for Giovinco to volley into the goal. As they did with Osorio, the Rapids had plenty of numbers in the penalty area, but not one of them actually bothered to get close to TFC’s Italian star.

The Rapids’ Bismark Boateng fizzed a shot wide late in the game.

It was pretty clear that the Rapids still looked fully in preseason mode, while TFC was ready. Despite the conditions. Despite the altitude. In conditions as difficult as they were in Colorado on Tuesday, players can’t afford to be lulled to sleep. Colorado, though, was caught snoozing.

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