Trailing 3–1 at Aggregate, Toronto FC will face off against league leader Cruz Azul of Mexico on Tuesday in the second leg of their Scotiabank CONSACAF Champions League quarter-finals.
Cruz Azul is unbeaten in all competitions in his last 18 matches (15–0–3) and is playing at home at his Azteca Stadium Fort in Mexico City, without fanfare.
Toronto (0-1-1) has yet to register a win in the young MLS season, showing cheating on defense and missing two of its three designated players alongside Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo (thigh) and injured. Venezuela winger Yeferson has been eliminated. Soteldo in quarantine in Florida.
The permutations are bleak, with the goal being the first tiebreaker in the event of an overall tie. In short, Toronto has to score at least three goals and the degree of difficulty increases if the Mexican side scores.
The TFC will survive if it wins 3–0. A 3–1 Toronto win would produce a penalty shootout. Toronto should score four goals, with Cruz Azul needing three goals to advance.
“We have to make sure that we try to capitalize on our opportunities and I think there are possibilities for us as well,” Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio told Mexico City on Monday. “So we believe in our team and we believe that we are not out of this tie.
“Anything can happen in football. As long as we are aggressive and we walk with a positive mindset, anything is possible. “
Toronto did not help its own cause last week in Tampa, with both goals from a corner and a free kick. The second followed a TFC turnover.
Toronto has been weak on set pieces, no matter the opponent.
Toronto coach Chris Armas said that in the first leg, when lost, his team showed signs of what to do to succeed.
“We understand that there is opportunity in sports,” he said. “They are obviously a good team, in a very good way, a winning way. But when we are at our best, picking up the second ball can create chances against them in transition.”
He said, “The games have not happened, whether it is the President or MLS or Champions League, we do not score.” “” “So we know we can score from transition, some pressing, maybe from a set piece. … But we also know that we have to tighten things up defensively.
The good news on that front is that he was brought back after the calf was injured. The athletic Frenchman offers veteran Umar Gonzalez a safety net, which is excellent in the air and is not mobile in good condition.
Just have to wait for the available Mavinga until the team’s sheet is removed on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Toronto general manager Ali Curtis continued his roster.
TFC is reportedly working on a deal to acquire defender Kemar Lawrence from Andlatch, Belgium. The 28-year-old Jamaican international is a known volume for Curtis and Armas, who played during their time at the New York Red Bulls.
Lawrence, an MLS All-Star and member of the league’s best XI, joined the Endelect in January 2020, during his five seasons with Red Bull.
On Monday, Toronto confirmed a loan deal for Liam Fraser, who would see the Canadian midfielder spend the rest of the season with the Columbus Crew SC. Fraser will not be allowed to play against Toronto for the loan term.
The loan deal, which includes sending TFC US $ 50,000 in general allocation money to Columbus, reunites Fraser with Columbus president and GM Tim Bezbachenko, who was GM of Toronto when Fraser signed his homegrown player contract in January, 2018 Was signed.
Toronto have time to rest since the first leg against Cruz Azul with an MLS bye over the weekend. Another positive fullback is Richie Laria returns from suspension.
Cruz Azul (13–2–2 in Liga MX play) had to equalize 1–1 with Tijuana in 14th place after a 94th minute goal.
Bottom Line Tuesday, TFC will have to be right on both ends. And more than a little luck is needed.
Cruz Azul has also been implicated earlier. In December 2020, in the Liga MX semi-finals, it blanked Puma 4–0 in the first leg and crashed 4–0 in the second leg. Pumas, as the high seed, advanced to the finals where he lost to Club Lyon, who were sent by Toronto to the CONCACAF Champions League Round 16 last month.
In February 2020, ESPN featured Cruz Azul prominently in its ESPN FC Misri Index, noting that Cruz Azul has been runner-up on six occasions since winning the Mexican title in 1997 – passing 14 head coaches.
There is also a verb – Cross-tiling Think “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” Or just Google Cruise Azul and Shap.
When reminded by a Mexican reporter, Armas dismissed such lore.
“It is not important to me. It is important that we are playing a good team. They are a separate team in 2021 right now. A team and a team that has been the key to success. So if we start thinking too much about the past and the curse, then we are missing the big picture.
“The big picture is that we have a big opportunity.”
Against great odds.