At least these two were completely absent. (CREDIT: David Becker, Getty Images)
| TORONTO FC
1 – 3
||SHOTS ON GOAL||11
This is world that we live in, I feel myself get tired.
This is the world that we live in, well maybe I was mistaken,
I heard a rumor that you quit this day and age, well maybe I was mistaken?
Bless your body, bless your soul, pray for peace and self control.
I gotta believe it's worth it without a victory,
I'm so sanctified and free, well maybe I'm just mistaken?
- "The World We Live In", The Killers
Well, there goes the season...that's the world we live in, it seems like.
With a draw in sight and seconds left on the clock, TFC went from saving a point against Santos Laguna, to falling 3-1. There were a few moments where it did seem like a draw was in the cards, and even there were some periods where it seemed like TFC would actually take all three points. But within the span of less than two minutes at the death, the dream was all over.
With the loss, the path to the knockout stages is almost all but gone. The early chances that were missed, including the early chance at the start from Ryan Johnson, the header from Eric Hassli, and the Andrew Wiedeman angled shot that found Oswaldo Sanchez instead of the back -- all of that will be rued as missed opportunities to cast the first stone. Maybe it would have turned out differently, if TFC hadn't tried to play Santos Laguna to a stalemate for the first 45 minutes.
It wasn't a bad effort in any way, either. It was just that one little thing: that late game break-down. The attacks were relentless from TFC, and for a majority of the match Santos almost had no answer for some of the piercing TFC runs. Even when Darwin Quintero scored the opening goal of the match four minutes after halftime, they simply did not give up. Quincy Amarikwa made a nuisance of himself within the inexperienced Santos defence, as did Andrew Wiedeman in the second half.
The defense was solid throughout the evening; and bent but not broke throughout the vicious Santos attacks. Ashtone Morgan and Darren O'Dea were critical in that area, and despite numerous scares, were almost completely solid throughout. The first goal by Quintero was simply one where the Colombian was able to thread the needle; the other two by Daniel Luduena and Candido Ramirez were simply defensive lapses that ultimately turned a potential fighting chance, into nothing.
As our guest WTR Live commentator Alicia Ratterree stated in tonight's commentary, TFC did hang on for a vast majority of the game. There were times where they took the attack to the Mexicans. It may have looked a bit iffy at some points, especially during some of those appalling misses by Oribe Peralta and Herculez Gomez, and TFC could count their lucky stars to have been saved by their bad luck, black cat or not.
And while the Santos forwards were asking some disjointed questions of their own to the TFC defence, the Reds didn't -- Eric Hassli's volley into Sanchez was one of the few threats of the first half, and even that was a relatively weak shot. Amarikwa did have his chances in the second half against an inexperienced Santos defence that included second-gamer Kenyi Adachi, and inconsistent defender Felipe Baloy, somehow hitting the post rather than scoring after some great work by Andrew Wiedeman, and finally scoring with a well placed shot after a shambolic attempt to clear a free kick by the Santos defence and goalie.
It's an example to the cruelty of the new format of the Champions League; one mistake and it's all over. Barring an absolute miracle from C.D. Aguila, and a win in Torreon, there's almost no way back from the abyss. The previous format, despite all its faults, still gave teams some hope rather than smash it into pieces with one chance. If anything, this will likely serve to reinforce Mexican dominance of the Champions League for some years to come.
It's not the first time that TFC has suffered this same fate against their opponent, nor will it be the last. But at the end of the day, this game will be just another one of those missed opportunities -- in that crazy, messed up world that we live in. But it was one of those opportunities that, if just a few things had gone right, would have been so much different.
And now, there's almost nothing left to play for, and the one lifeline we dangle on, is thinner than a frayed cord on a sharp rock. Welcome back to the world that we live in.
WAKING THE RED'S GOLDEN TROPHIES/KICKS IN THE GROIN
|A golden trophy to...Quincy Amarikwa.||Made himself a pest with Santos' defense.|
|A kick in the groin for...defensive lapses.||This one's a no brainer, I think.|
|A kick in the groin for...CONCACAF.||Three team groups is not a way to grow this competition.|
|A kick in the groin for...Eric Hassli.||Got his big-time CCL shot, and flubbed it.|
|A golden trophy to...Terry Dunfield.||Move over, Tony Stark.|