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FT: Toronto FC 1-1 Club León—Match thread, preview, and how to watch

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Questions? Comments? Join us for Toronto FC’s first match of the season as they take on Liga MX’s León in the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16. Follow along all of the action tonight with Michael Singh.

Leon v Toronto - Concacaf Champions League 2021 Photo by Leopoldo Smith/Getty Images

Live Match Thread

FT—TORONTO FC 1-1 Club León | That’s a great start to the Chris Armas era.

90+5—Five minutes of added time here...oh boy.

87’—Luke Singh! The freshly-signed CB checks into the game for Toronto FC after inking a four-day contract earlier today. This is his professional debut.

87’—Patrick Mullins with a great challenge in the TFC area! Alex Bono makes a great save a few moments later and the rebound is put wide! This is getting close...

84’—Auro Jr now down, but he appears to be alright. Laryea also down, stretching out a cramp. Limit the injuries. Limit the goals. That’s the motto.

82’—CHANCE! What a tackle by Omar Gonzalez, who saves a sure goal with a desperate block. He actually may not have touched it in the end, but he certainly made the difference. TFC hanging on...

78’—That could’ve been a red as Barreiro rushes in and pushes Patrick Mullins to the ground complainin that the TFC striker went down too easily, drawing a foul. He escapes with just a yellow card. Shortly after, Mullins fouls Barreiro—you love to see it! Mullins is not backing down.

76’—Griffin Dorsey spotting! Lining up on the right wing, Dorsey checks into the match for Altidore, who didn’t (couldn’t?) run after pulling up with an apparent hamstring injury.

74’—CHANCE! How did the León player miss that? It may have been harder to miss than score as the ball was driven across the face of goal and somehow put wide...TFC get away with one there!

74’—Liam Fraser checking into the game for Erickson Gallardo, who also went down. That knock from earlier certainly caught up to him. Jozy staying in the match for now.

72’—Jozy Altidore just felt his hamstring and signaled to the bench. Oh man...

70’—1-1 heading into the last 20 minutes here ... you’ll take that all day if you’re TFC.

67’—Patrick Mullins making an immediate impact— a direct run in behind and he’s found by Erickson Gallardo! Mullins does get tangled up with the Mexican defender, but the referee isn’t having any of it.

65’—Gallardo looks to be alright, fwiw. He’s staying on.

64’—Patrick Mullins checks into the match for Ralph Priso. Looks like we’ll see two up front for Toronto FC with Mullins playing underneath Jozy Altidore.

63’—Erickson Gallardo looks like he’s picked up a knock. That’s so unfortunate. He may have to come off here...

57’—CHANCE! TFC dodge a bullet there as a quick counter attack leads to an open shot for Joel Campbell on the right wing, who curls it far corner, but he hits the inside of the post!

50’—GOAAAAAAL!!!!!!!!! TORONTO FC 1-1 CLUB León: Erickson Gallardo! That’s right! It’s EG with the high press that causes a turnover, before releasing a pass that deflects off a León defender and up and over their goalkeeper. It’ll likely go down as an own goal, but if your EG, you’ll take it how you can get it at this point. That’s a massive, massive away goal for TFC.

46’—Erickson Gallardo checks into the game at halftime for Noble Okello. Great 45’ for the 20 year old in his first-career start. And yes, Gallardo lives!

46’—We’re back. Big second half comin—and chance for TFC! Jacob Shaffelburg almost gets in behind, but his touch lets him down. Here we go...

HT—Toronto FC 0-1 Club León: It’s a wonderstrike that’s the only difference in this match so far. What are your thoughts on the first half so far? And what changes would you like to see made in the second half?

Remember! This is the first of two legs. The return fixture will be played on April 14 in the Orlando area.

44’—Another great chance for León. After a quick switch of play, a ball is whipped back in by the Mexican side, but Joel Campbell—free at the back post—can’t find the finish. TFC fortunate to get away with one there...

42’—Great defending from Omar Gonzalez, gets a crucial header in to intercept a sure-goal. As TimmyMax mentioned in our comments, Toronto FC will be happy if they get into halftime with this game still 1-0.

37’—CHANCE! León get another great chance, but are once again flagged for offside. It’s clear that TFC’s legs are certainly catching up to them at 6,000 ft above sea level, with the Mexican side starting to settle into this match.

33’—Poor turnover from Ralph Priso in the midfield leads to a counter attack — and damn, how fast is Richie Laryea? He eventually fouled Campbell, but he made up ground quick!

27’—Positive response from Toronto FC. Shaffelburg with a meg in the midfield, he’s looked lively early on.

25’—GOAL! Club León 1-0 Toronto FC—What a goal. There’s nothing that you can really do about that. Fernando Navarro with a special, special volley at the top of the box goes off the post and in. León takes the lead.

20’—Another chance for Jozy Altidore, who receives a delicious whipped in cross first time from Richie Laryea. Altidore put the ball just wide and was marginally offside on the play, but he was in the right area. You have to like what we’ve seen out of Jozy early on.

19’—CHANCE! Noble Okello can’t get the volley right at the top of the box. If he had hit the target, you’d have to imagine that’s finding the back of the net after the León keeper was taken out of the play after fending off a Mark Delgado cross. That’s right, by the way. Mark Delgado – he has apparently dropped the ‘y.’

18’—As Terry Dunfield just pointed out on the broadcast, the first 17 minutes of the game goes to Toronto FC. Let’s see if they can maintain this tempo and stay strong at the back.

12’—Okello pulling strings in the midfield right now, springs Shaffelburg, but the winger couldn’t find the end product with Jozy Altidore making a run far post. Again, great start for Toronto FC.

11’—Noble Okello with the meg! Jacob Shaffelburg is now down in the corner after stretching out to keep the ball in play.

9’—Chance for former Arsenal man Joel Campbell, but he is flagged for offside. León look dangerous off the counter here.

6’—Penalty shout for Toronto FC, but the referee waves it away. Laryea went shoulder to shoulder with the León defender, but nothing more in it according to the official. Positive early start for the Reds.

3’—GOA—nevermind! Tight one there as León almost open the scoring after a Michael Bradley challenge sends the ball past the TFC backline, however, the León player who eventually put the ball into the back of the net was certainly offside.

1’—CHANCE! What a great start for Toronto FC, with Jacob Shaffelburg winning possession in the midfield before swinging a cross in for Jozy Altidore. Wide-open, Jozy gets the header away, but the keeper makes the save. Could Altidore have done better?

1’—For the first time this season, we are OFF! León kicks off first with Toronto FC going left-to-right on our screen.

8:02 pm EST—First look an Toronto FC’s A41 kits ... and they are a beauty! I love the black socks.

8:00 pm EST—It is 8 pm EST! We are moments away from kickoff! Get ready, folks!

7:54 pm EST—Which player do you think will be the MOTM tonight for TFC?

7:49 pm EST—“We’re in a golden generation” — Terry Dunfield on Toronto FC’s academy.

7:42 pm EST—I LOVE this Young Gun talk on OneSoccer’s pregame. You know how much of an advocate we’ve been for this...you love to see it. FREE THE YOUNG GUNS!

7:39 pm EST—Noble Okello makes his first career start for Toronto FC tonight! Here’s what Chris Armas had to say about the young Canadian central midfielder when I asked him about Okello last week:

“Noble (Okello) has really surprised me and the staff in some good ways because he has this ability to cover ground in a different way (with) long strides. Naturally, if you’re trying to play with intensity and aggressiveness and guys that want to hunt the ball, he has that. He’s caused turnovers, he’s disrupting play, he’s scoring goals. I think he’s playing free right now and he’s another one of those guys sensing that he might have a chance here.”

7:31 pm EST—How different will this Toronto FC team look under Chris Armas? Ralph Priso has that answer:

7:23 pm EST—We have plenty of pregame content up on our site, so make sure that you go and check that out if you’re looking to get even more amped for tonight’s match. And of course, don’t forget to leave your final score guesses in our prediction league, as the winner will take home a small prize related to Toronto FC!

7:15 pm EST—Ohhh baby! Here we go. It’s been a long time coming, but we are LIVE for the first Toronto FC match of the season! Thank you everyone for tuning in and following along. Kickoff is of course at 8 pm ET, but I am pumped to get going and I’m excited to hear from many of you in what should be a busy comment thread! Come. On. You. Reds!


Starting Lineups

Here’s how Toronto FC will line up for the first time under Chris Armas:

4-2-3-1: Bono; Laryea, Gonzalez, Zavaleta, Auro Jr.; Priso, Bradley, Delgado, Okello, Shaffelburg; Altidore

And here’s how the home side will line up vs. TFC


Match Preview (via Anthony Khoury)

TORONTO, Canada—April not only means the start of the new Major League Soccer (MLS) season, but also TFC’s highly anticipated return to North America’s annual club competition, the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL).

Following the postponement of the 2020 Canadian Championship due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a compromise was made with Forge FC to grant TFC qualification to the 2021 edition of the continental tournament.

Toronto will play reigning Liga MX champions Club León in the Round of 16, with the first leg taking place on Wednesday, April 7 at the Estadio León. Kickoff is set for 8:00 pm ET, with OneSoccer set to air all CCL games in 2021 after recently acquiring the Canadian broadcast rights for the competition.

As TFC President Bill Manning revealed to Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press, the second leg will be played a week later at the Osceola County Stadium, which is the home of Orlando City B.

The last time TFC played a CCL tie was back in February 2019, where they were eliminated by Panamanian side Independiente following a 5-1 defeat on aggregate in the first knockout round. The season before that was far more memorable, as TFC made an inspiring run to the final, but were defeated by Chivas Guadalajara in a heartbreaking penalty shootout.

TFC’s overall CCL record currently stands at 15 wins, 10 draws and 12 defeats in 37 matches since their tournament debut in 2009.

As Chris Armas prepares for his debut season at the helm of the club, TFC’s squad has undergone minimal changes since the end of the 2020 campaign. Pablo Piatti’s departure opened up a designated player spot in Toronto’s roster, but the financial strains caused by the pandemic have made signing a new DP increasingly difficult.

Ahead of the start of the campaign, TFC were able to play two friendly games against the USL’s Fort Lauderdale CF and the reigning MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew.

Toronto comfortably dispatched of both sides, beating Fort Lauderdale 3-0 and the Crew 4-2. Moreover, the TFC faithful were able to get a small taste of the high-press system that Armas plans to utilize this season.

Veteran forward Patrick Mullins got on the scoresheet in both games, while talismans Alejandro Pozuelo, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley grabbed a goal each over the two high-scoring games.

With seven goals in their 180 minutes of preseason action, TFC’s attacking cohort—who will be without Ayo Akinola and Achara—will have their sights set on bagging a few past León, as the Mexican club, who currently occupy eighth spot in the Liga MX, has conceded 17 goals in their first 13 league games of the 2020/21 campaign.

León have averaged just over a goal a game so far this season, with Ecuadorian winger Ángel Mena leading the way with five league goals to his name, including the winner against Toluca this past weekend.

A notable name within León’s ranks is Costa Rican and former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell, who initially joined joined the Mexican club on loan from Italian side Frosinone in 2018, before signing on a permanent basis the following year.

This will be the first meeting in history between TFC and León, but based on Toronto’s record against Mexican teams, Armas’ men will need to flip the script if they are to overcome their upcoming opponent.

In 15 competitive matches against Mexican opposition, TFC has only won three of them. León has never played against a Canadian side before, but their only tie against an MLS team ended in a 3-2 defeat on aggregate to LAFC in last season’s Round of 16.

When speaking to the media after the win over Columbus, Armas stressed that his players must remain focused at all times during high-caliber games:

“In Concacaf and the CCL, and in the biggest games, especially a tournament like that, it’s set pieces, it’s the staying tuned in – we say, ‘Can you stay online, really focused in?’ Because [the players] will be suffering and there will be parts of the game that aren’t perfect, so it’s really about staying focused.”

As Toronto puts the finishing touches on preparation for their first CCL game in over two years, fans will hope that a promising cup run may be on the cards starting Wednesday.


How to Watch

Who: Club León vs. Toronto FC
When: Wednesday, April 7, 8:00 PM ET
Where: Estadio León, Mexico
Streaming: OneSoccer