TFC vs Santos Laguna – Champions League semi final – first leg
Stunning. Wednesday night was a stunner. It dragged me back to caring about this team and thinking that they have great things in their future. On a night when I least expected it, a ripple of pride was in the air.
This was the quality we were expecting on Saturday, the home opener. TFC displayed the guts, the spine, the teamwork, the attitude, the piss and vinegar. Why does it come and go for this team? Do they just save it for the Champions League?
I like the way that late in the game when TFC were sizing them up, with a man advantage, they were also very aware of the counter attack. The way that Ty Harden annoyed their striker, the way that Plata tracked back to defend. I think that’s actually what lead to the attack on Morgan in the final minute. It is funny but although I was in the best spot to see what happened, section 120, I missed it as I followed the ball out.
The less I say about Santos Laguna, the better. They showed their quality on their only goal. They found a seam to exploit with a quick finish. However, the diving, the prolonged time on the ground after every challenge, yet no mercy shown the other way with menacing tackles at Johnson and Eckersley and then the attack and scuffle at the end of the game all add up to a bad taste in my mouth. I actually came away from the stadium thinking that Toronto should play their deepest reserves in the return match just to protect our starters from a Mexican night of cheap shots and injury risk.
It was odd when you thought about the individual performances since almost all of TFC’s players have had much better games. It was a night where the team was the key thing. A handful of scoring chances were squandered. Kouvermans is not firing on all cylinders yet, Reggie Lambe was sparking good attack down the wings, but also responsible for some horrible corner kicks. DeGuzman and Dunfield were on the same page- excellent passing and defensive awareness. I thought DeGuzman played a quality game. Johnson was hard working and brave in the face of very physical tackles. Aceval played smart. He is not a slow and pondering defender, but akin to the missing Frings, he is the older player who uses his knowledge to make the right play and position himself wisely. As he learns the players and teams in MLS I think he will improve. I am hoping that he was taken out as an injury precaution. His goal was an extra, added bonus. Kocic made some second half saves that held Toronto firmly in the game
Now it is onto Saturday. I would rather see the team continue this spirit and team play against Columbus. TFC needs to make MLS play the priority. Build on the foundation I say, build!