5 – 1
Lambe 17', 48'
|GOALS||Y. Perez 37'|
|Wiedeman 86'||DISCIPLINE||Zelaya 37'|
|12||SHOTS ON GOAL||4|
Don't call it a comeback, I been here for years rockin' my peers,
Puttin' suckas in fear, makin' the tears rain down like a monsoon.
Listen to the bass go boom, explosion overpowerin'. over the competition, I'm towerin'
Records shock when I drop these lyrics, that'll make you call the cops.
Don't you dare stare, you betta move, don't ever compare me to the rest.
They'll all get sliced and diced, competition's payin' the price!
I'm gonna knock you out, mama said knock you out...
- "Mama Said Knock You Out", LL Cool J
So maybe it was against a decidedly second-rate Central American team that's just making its CCL debut, but what a night! In front of an almost empty BMO Field, Toronto FC turned in what is arguably one of their best continental cup performances, absolutely owning El Salvador's C. D. Àguila. As Sportsnet's John Molinaro put is so kindly on Twitter, "it was like playing against the 2007 version of TFC." (For those of you who missed it all -- you can revisit the game via WTR's Live commentary.)
No matter how bad the opponent was, TFC did very well. An early chance in the 6th minute off a corner from Torsten Frings was called back for offside, but that was just temporary relief for the Salvadoreans as young Luis Silva would head home another Frings corner three minutes later. The Reds had controlled most of the play at that time, and the goal was just reward for that dominance.
Àguila for their part didn't help themselves; off a corner, the Salvadoreans somehow give away the ball to Reggie Lambe during a pressure situation, and the Bermudan would make no mistake after running the ball alongside Silva, burying the 2-0 lead. But just as you were about to relax, Doneil Henry gives away a free kick off a needless foul. The kick was saved, but Milos Kocic couldn't get a grip on the ball, or parry it to safety, instead letting the ball sit juicily right in front of him, which allowed Yakiel Perez to bury the rebound to give Àguila a minute bit of hope; needless to say, a few hearts sank in and out of the park, and TFC were for the first time on the back foot.
However, that was as far as the Salvadoreans would go in terms of goal scoring, as a 40th minute strike from Terry Dunfield, throwing his leg at a cross and the ball going in off his knee, followed by a second Lambe strike three minutes into the second half, and a Ryan Johnson goal, rounding the goalie and knocking the ball into the gaping net in the 58th minute would seal the win for the Reds, and lock in a +4 goal difference in Group 1, which if results between Santos Laguna and TFC are tied, could come in handy.
The game was marked by the first apparance on the bench in a TFC strip by Eric Hassli, but he saw no time on the field as Quincy Amarikwa came in instead of the Frenchman, his CCL and TFC debut deferred yet another day. The return of Jeremy Hall, however, has to be a boost to the TFC lineup, as is the appearance of Ty Harden -- the bench was actually fully stocked for the first time in many games, and even if Harden or Hassli didn't play, it bodes well for the near future.
Overall, it was a very solid performance by TFC -- a crushing win that is a long time coming. After struggling with some CCL minnows and their bunker defences for the past few years, today is an encouraging sign of perhaps things to come -- a shot at Santos Laguna, even. The defensive line was a bit suspect here and there, but overall did its job this evening. The possession and tackling were quite well executed, denying Aguila chances at goal. Forward play was also excellent, as they dominated the Salvadorean defenders.
At the end of the night, this result isn't going to put nightmares into the dreams of Santos Laguna's players. A few of the old problems (like Ryan Johnson's still questionable finishing, and some lackadaisical finishing and defending) could come back to haunt the Reds when the two sides finally meet, but this game was Toronto's warning shot at Torreon -- we're not going to be pushed over like we did last time. And for that, we can actually be confident for once, and perhaps, just perhaps, it gives us an edge against Santos Laguna in the race for first in Group 1.
Not to say that will carry over into league form though, as TFC now face Alvaro Fernandez and Chicago for a Saturday night match. Will this form carry over? Maybe, or maybe not -- but after the 2-0 loss to Houston, this knockout win is the boost they needed.