"I don't know how much you guys know about our home crowd and the city we live in," Gomez said, "but it's probably not the smartest idea picking a dogfight."
Herculez Gomez via MLSsoccer.com
Last night things got fairly rough and tumble between Toronto FC and Santos Laguna. Ashtone Morgan probably still has a nice bump on his head to show for all the shenanigans at the end of the 1-1 draw while Santos has a pair of red cards for their efforts.
Somehow though, it seems that the same esteemed members of the media that wrote TFC off before this game still feel that the hard fought 1-1 draw puts Santos firmly in the drivers seat. That same MLSsoccer article puts it this way: "The hard-fought draw cements the Mexican league leaders as firm favourites ahead of the return leg in the Estadio Corona on April 4, and Gomez is confident that Santos will come out all guns blazing."
That quote was just the tip of the iceberg though as it seems that Gomez was dropping audio inspiration all of the place. If the way the first leg played out and the final score was not enough to get TFC all fired up for the return leg all the scuffles at the end and the subsequent quotes from Gomez will do the job just fine.
Gomez is looking for a war down in Mexico, which seems a bit odd considering the existing perceptions of Torreon being a dangerous city, and he seems to expect that Santos will have no problem beating TFC even worse than they did the Seattle Sounders. A quote from Gomez in the Toronto Star, which the player firmly denies, had him suggesting such a lopsided scoreline. "If the score was 6-1 to (one of the ) best teams in MLS, can you imagine what we can do to Toronto," is not exactly the kind of thing that you would expect to hear from a player who's team just tied 1-1 against what was supposed to be such an inferior squad.At the end of the day, what Gomez actually said in the locker room after the game is not really of that much importance. He could very well have been misquoted by the Star reporter who allegedly over heard the comment from Gomez in Spanish. I would not suggest it was made up as the Star tends to be very diligent in checking their quotes but it does seem odd that it came from Gomez.
It may not have shown in all the quotes from Gomez following the game but he has always come across as a good guy. He may just have been very frustrated that his team did not get the result they were expecting in the game and that he had to leave the game early with an injury. He was also a bit annoyed at the fact that TFC fans cheered when he went down injury after a collision with Milos Kocic. Problem with that frustration is that TFC fans were not cheering his injury but rather were responding to the number of times that Santos players had rolled around the pitch over the course of the game, as well as merely cheering a very good save from Kocic.
So Gomez was frustrated and like the rest of his team he seemed to be in a foul mood after the game. That led to him providing more than enough material to fill up a bulletin board just in case the Reds need anything more to get them fired up for the return leg.
It seems though that Gomez and his Santos teammates have failed to look back on how TFC have made it to this stage. They were written off as having no chance to get a result against Pumas, they got a massive draw; they had no chance to go down to Texas and beat FC Dallas, they won 3-0; they would get crushed by the LA Galaxy, they got a 2-2 draw and a 2-1 win to knock out the MLS champs; then last night they were not supposed to stand a chance and they went toe-to-toe with one of Mexico's top clubs and came out looking like the better side. This CCL has shown that writing off Toronto FC is a very foolish idea as when they have nothing left to lose they tend to go out and prove all the doubters wrong.
So Mr. Gomez, thank you for opening your mouth and giving TFC just one more piece of motivation to continue to prove everyone around CONCACAF wrong.
It was not just Gomez though that had some interesting sound bites after the match. Santos' coach, Benjamin Galindo will likely also come under some fire for what he had to say after the match. He was very critical of the game officials, claiming a missed penalty against Aaron Maund and that both his teams red cards were harsh was just the start of his evening. In his post game comments he took issue with CONCACAF appointing an American Ref to officiate a match that apparently involved an "American" team and in that rant referred to the ref as a "gringo" several times. Now the term "Gringo" is not really offensive in and of itself as it is used to refer to all Americans but some do feel that it is has racist connotations so he might yet get in trouble for using the term. One thing is for certain, his comments did nothing to make the coach look intelligent and he certainly criticized the official which CONCACAF will not be likely to view kindly.
It looks like CONCACAF officials are going to have a lot of things to sort out before the second leg. There could be some additional bans to hand out based on the red cards, the post game scuffle, and some of the comments. Either way though, players and fans of both clubs are already getting fired up for next Wednesday. Gomez thinks it is going to be a dogfight down in Torreon but his coach seems to think it will be more like the Mexican-American war, TFC are in America after all!