Toronto FC vs. Real Esteli (Nicaragua)
10pm EST (8pm MST)
A trip to the group stages of North America’s biggest club tournament is on the line tonight for TFC as they take on Real Esteli to further their dreams of continental domination.
What’s at Stake
A trip to the group stages of North America’s club football tournament, and the six matches that are involved – three home, three away. And a continued shot at being a CONCACAF champion.
With the league a write-off, Aron Winter will likely want to throw everything at the Nicaraguans and kill off the tie as quick as possible, which will allow some of the first XI to rest up for the league match in Washington, DC on Saturday. But will we be surprised again by a start from Milos Kocic, who conceded the late away goal last week at home?
The heat will be oppressive, since we are speaking of Central America after all. The pitch at Estadio Independencia could also be a factor. All signs are pointing to a continual assault like the home leg, but with a slight bit of caution in the oppressive heat and uncertain conditions.
With the depature of Maicon Santos, the Reds lose a striker. His replacement from Dallas, Eric Avila, is probably not going to play a part in the game. Winter also favours the 4-3-3 (almost to the point of obsessive), so I don’t see any deviations from that path. Here's how I project the starting XI to look like:
What the Media is Saying
MLSsoccer.com – Toronto expecting a tough outing in Nicaragua
TorontoFC.com – Toronto reaches for CCL Groups
Toronto Sun – The heat is on for TFC
Losing without scoring a goal will result in elimination from the Champions League, which will leave us with nothing to play for. This is probably the doomsday scenario for the Reds, and they will be keen to avoid it. Most other results (draw, win) will mean a victory and advancement to the next round.
Winning will mean a spot in Group C alongside UNAM of Mexico, Tauro of Panama and either Alianza from El Salvador or fellow MLS team FC Dallas (depending on the result of their tie).