Home MLS Toronto FC TFC doesn’t get their Goats: Chivas shocks BMO Field with inspired road effort

TFC doesn’t get their Goats: Chivas shocks BMO Field with inspired road effort

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Toronto FC entered the CONCACAF Champions League final as the favourite to win the final. The Reds were in rare territory; an MLS team that was, incredibly, the odds-on pick to take a tournament that has traditionally been the playground for Mexican giants.

But, after a 2-1 loss to Chivas at BMO Field in Tuesday’s first leg, despite having the advantage of blustery conditions, the Reds will enter next week’s second leg in what has become familiar territory for MLS sides in CCL. They’ll be the underdogs.

They’ll have to overcome two road goals.

The deadlock was broken late in the second half, as Alan Pulido’s free kick from left of the penalty area caught TFC keeper Alex Bono out of position, and bent into the goal.

Yeah, the same Alan Pulido who has haunted the Canadian national team in the past, at the U-20 and U-23 level. Search his name in The 11, and he turns up a few times. He doesn’t make for pleasant reading for Canadian fans.

It was a poor finish from the Reds, after a brutal start.

Toronto FC gave up the key road goal just 70 seconds into the match. The Reds were caught napping on a Chivas throw in; they were loose in their coverage and then Auro, coming in from the fullback position to mark striker Rodolfo Pizarro in the box, didn’t do his job. Pizarro was left open to slam the ball into the net for the Goats.

“It was a bad goal to give up, we’re not even two minutes into the game,” said TFC coach Greg Vanney. “Throw-in on the side, we have to deal with it better.  I don’t know if it changes the game, but it sure puts us in a hole to start the game.

Now there was some debate if the linesman mistakenly awarded the initial throw-in to Chivas; but, that would really be splitting hairs. You’ve got to be able to collect yourselves and defend a throw-in.

And Chivas, who, based on previous Champions League exploits against Seattle and New York Red Bulls, were expected to park the bus, were in the driver’s seat.

But the Reds drew level (well, sort of level, as Chivas carried the advantage of the road goal) in the 19th minute. Jozy Altidore did well to hold the ball up in front of the Chivas back line, then pushed the ball down the right wing to Marky Delgado, who then cushioned a ball in front of the goal — and barely out of the reach of three, count ‘em, three defenders. Jonathan Osorio bowled into the area and slid to meet the ball — and drive it in.

Altidore, coming back from a foot problem that forced him out of the second leg of the semifinal, then slowed down and was hunched over for a couple of minutes, before stating he could go on.

Altidore then had two golden chances to give the Reds the lead before halftime, but, in both instances, shot straight at keeper Miguel Jimenez.

Delgado then shot over the bar early in the second, before Bono was forced to stretch to stop an effort from Chivas’s Orbelin Pineda.

Drew Moor, up from his defensive position, then had the next great chance to get TFC the lead it badly needed, but Pizarro’s late challenge was enough to force the Toronto man to  shoot wide.

Pizarro was simply wonderful on the night; the best player on the pitch. He looked to be playing in a variety of positions, tirelessly running to help out the back line when needed, going out onto the wing when needed, and supporting the attack when needed. He was an inspiration to his team, the kind of individual performance that Tigres and Club  America didn’t get from one of their players in the earlier CCL rounds against the Reds.

Then, in the 72nd, came Bono’s mistake, as he was caught out on a free kick he clearly expected to be delivered into the penalty area, but was swerved goalwards instead. If Bono was close to his goal line, he would have handled the ball. But he was caught out, and the ball hit the back of the net. Bono has made a series of excellent saves for the Reds in their run to the final, but, in that key moment, he was at fault.

“It is definitely a misread on my part,” said Bono. “It is something I have to own up to and work on in training and that sort of thing and get ready for the next tie.”

Two minutes later, TFC star Sebastian Giovinco went down in the box under the challenge of Chivas defender Michael Perez; but referee Ricardo Montero saw no reason to give a penalty, despite Giovinco’s arm waving and protest.

That was TFC’s final meaningful attack; now, they must gather themselves and pull off a great Mexican turnaround against a team that isn’t cocky, that understands who its opponent is. Chivas may not have the talent of Tigres or Club America, but the Goats far surpassed them in terms of guile, effort and passion.

 

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One Comment

  1. Ralph

    April 18, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Two away goals? Ouch. I hope for them but gotta say it is probably over.

    Reply

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