TFC gets a great effort, timely goals and rides luck in win over Tigres By Steven Sandor Posted on March 13, 2018 1 0 439 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Sebastian Giovinco PHOTO: MARTIN BAZYL/CANADA SOCCER “I’d rather choose my soul to lose Than leave around just one confused And lose desire Don’t know if I’ll ever learn Can’t wait till I get my turn To burn in the infernal hellfire” — Supersuckers, “Born With a Tail” OK, let’s really get ahead of ourselves, shall we? The Club World Cup is set to begin in the United Arab Emirates on Dec. 12, 2018; the tournament runs for 10 days. That schedule was announced by FIFA last September. But MLS Cup is set for Dec. 8 of this year. Now, let’s say for the sake of a good argument, one of the teams set to play in the league’s big final was also the CONCACAF Champions League winner. There’s no way MLS could expect that team to play MLS Cup on Dec. 8 and then jet halfway across the world to open the Club World Cup four days later… right? Wrong? Considering that MLS has a long streak of failure when it comes to the CONCACAF Champions League, I guess you can’t blame league HQ for creating a playoff schedule that really didn’t pay much heed to the Club World Cup. Really, deep down, scheduling MLS Cup so close to the Club World Cup shows how little confidence the league had in one of its teams finally ending the Mexican dynasty. But there’s a problem, now. Toronto FC are now off to the CCL semifinals, surviving the ordeal that is a road game at Tigres. The Mexican giants and the MLS champs finished the two-game aggregate-score quarterfinal at 4-4, but the two goals TFC scored in a 3-2 “defeat” in Mexico were good enough to send the Reds through. (And, if you’re keeping score in that “cheering for leagues” thing, New York Red Bulls knocked out Tijuana on Tuesday night, as well. And Seattle has a lead over Chivas heading into Wednesday’s second leg). After nearly a decade of suffering, I have come to the conclusion that there’s a TFC fan who watched Tuesday’s game knowing full well that (s)he has made a deal with the devil. A deal that allowed the Reds to be built into the most powerful juggernaut MLS has seen. I have a feeling that this TFC supporter is a hyphenated Arsenal-TFC fan, because this deal with the devil might explain more than a few things at the Emirates. I mean, how else other than a pact with good ol’ Beelzebub himself can you explain Chris Mavinga throwing himself at a goal-bound shot as if he were a hockey defenceman, and blocking it without using his hands? How do you explain Alex Bono heroically stopping Drew Moor from scoring on his own net? Or, that the Reds survived an early first-half injury to fullback Justin Morrow that required coach Greg Vanney to go his bench 15 minutes in? If Tigres had got a first-half goal on either of those chances, Tuesday’s second leg would have unfolded in a very different fashion. Still unsure about the deal-with-Satan thing? Let’s look back a the 63rd minute own goal that gave TFC the lead on the night, and a two-goal cushion on aggregate. Sebastian Giovinco comes in on the left side, barely beats the offside trap, then makes a terrible pass to the middle of the penalty area that was well behind teammate Jozy Altidore. But, no matter. Tigres defender Rafael Carioca slotted the ball into the goal with aplomb. Giovinco missed Altidore badly — and TFC got a goal out of it. Tigres got a goal back from Eduardo Vargas, but then Giovinco was back at it, this time with an inch-perfect free kick to salt away the tie. But the real key was how Giovinco drew the foul that led to the free kick. He went in one-on-three, danced between two Tigres defenders, forcing the third, Hugo Ayala, to stick the leg out. French star Andre-Pierre Gignac got two goals back for Tigres late in the game — one on a last-gasp penalty. But, between the two goals came a massive miss (once again, thanks, Mr. Devil!). He was played in behind the TFC back line, chipped the ball over Bono, but saw the ball go wide of the far post. TFC still has a semifinal and a final to negotiate if the Reds are to win the quad. There’s still work to do. But, now, by punting Tigres out of the competition, they’ve moved from underdogs to favourites. And, they’ll be favourites to head back to MLS Cup in December. So maybe, just maybe, it’s time for MLS to sweat just a bit about the possible scheduling conflict.