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FT: Toronto FC 0-1 Cruz Azul—Game thread, preview, and how to watch

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Trailing 3-1 on aggregate, the current Liga MX leaders stand in the way of TFC and a continental semifinal berth. Follow along all of tonight’s action with Michael Singh.

Cruz Azul v Toronto FC - Concacaf Champions League 2021 Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Game Thread

FT—Toronto FC 0-1 Cruz Azul—The Reds 2021 CONCACAF Champions League run is over in the quarter-finals at the hands of the Liga MX leaders—a team that’s now unbeaten in their last 19 matches in all competitions.

86’—Noble Okello is a baller. He’s been involved in a few positive movements early on for TFC, but I’ve just been so impressed with his ability for someone of that size. Sky really is the limit for him.

84’—CHANCE! Auro dinks a ball into the far post, but it’s justtttttt—and I mean just—beyond the reach of a crashing Okello. That probably still would’ve been too little, too late, but it’d still be nice to get at least one before this game finishes.

82’—Ayo Akinola checking out of the match for Ralph Priso. Patrick Mullins shifts to striker, Mark Delgado playing as CF.

76’—Still nothing. Cruz Azul doing their job—taking the life out of this match. Sucks that it’s such a late one...they’re putting me to sleep! S/O to all of those who are sticking with us in the comment thread. Appreciate you!

67’—Patrick Mullins and Noble Okello getting ready to check into the match for the Reds. A limping Nick DeLeon and Jacob Shaffelburg give way.

58’—Nothing. That’s the update. Nothing so far.

46’—We’re back! Is there some Magic in Mexico!? Double change for Toronto FC out of the break, as Tsubasa Endoh comes into the match for Jonathan Osorio and Chris Mavinga checks out of the game for Auro Jr. We’re witnessing some Justin Morrow at CB, a late-night TFC special for those of you who are still up!

11:11 pm ET—As I said, positive vibes tonight folks!

HT—Toronto FC 0-1 Cruz Azul: Yeah, the Reds still need a miracle.

38’—That goal has seemed to suck the life out of TFC. It’s been all Cruz Azul since, who seem content to just keep the ball.

30’—That doesn’t change much in this tie. TFC still need to score three goals, but they can’t concede another.

27’—GOAL! Cruz Azul 1-0 Toronto FC—Cruz Azul gets the early goal, as Bryan Angulo (again) hits a really early strike from about 35 yards out, catching Alex Bono off his line. The TFC keeper was clearly playing high to prevent the long ball over the top, but the ball set up nicely for Angulo and he made no mistake. Have to give him credit for having the awareness to try that strike.

25’—ANOTHER CHANCE! Omar Gonzalez gets up off the header, and from a long way out, his looping header hits the cross bar! For a second there, it looked like the ball had eyes for that far post, but Cruz Azul catch another break. If TFC get one before the half, this is a game.

25’—CHANCE! Great ball in by Nick DeLeon springs Ayo Akinola who shoots first time, but his low and hard strike to the near post is turned away by the keeper.

23’—Chris Mavinga! Angulo looked like he was in, but Mavinga makes up a ton of ground, stays on his feet, and is able to recover and make a tackle. Vintage Mavinga—who has been dearly missed in this side.

18’—Toronto FC find the back of the net, but Nick DeLeon was offside. Osorio could’ve played that ball in slightly sooner, but again, there are chances in this game.

15’—Fifteen minutes in and we’re still scoreless. For anyone who took the under in the prediction league, I apologize.

14’—Aaaaaannddd, Toronto FC give up a wide-open header off a corner kick. This is not a recording. Big save from Alex Bono. Every time there’s a set piece, my heart drops to my stomach.

13’—Two takeaways early on for Toronto FC to work on: First, Alex Bono’s distribution has been absolutely dreadful. Second, they’re getting beat too easily down their left side with a ball over the top. Morrow needs to be better there.

7’—CHANCE! After some solid build-up play by Toronto FC, Nick DeLeon dinks in a cross at the far post to a wide open Jonathan Osorio, but his header is deflected away by the Cruz Azul defender Aldrete. If Oso hits the net there, that’s a goal. The keeper was out of the play.

2’—I don’t really have words to describe what happened in that first minute, some clumsy errors from both sides, but there’s space on both ends for teams to work in right now. Bono called into action for an early save, diving down to his right to steer away a shot from the top of the box.

1’—And we are live! Toronto FC kicking off left to right on our screen. Let’s see if the Reds can snag an early goal here to make this one really interesting.

10:11 pm ET—Handy reference for anyone who needs!

10:05 pm ET—If Ayo Akinola has a game tonight for Toronto FC, it should be no question moving forward who the Starting No. 9 is for this team. Big opportunity for Ayo here, imo.

10:03 pm ET—According to OneSoccer, TFC are starting in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Nick DeLeon as the No. 10. That could obviously change very quickly, but something to keep an eye on early on. Glad to see TFC still going out there with their strongest possible XI in this one.

10:00 pm ET—Philadelphia Union are on a bit of a roll, eh? They just steamrolled past Atlanta to move on to the semifinals where they’ll play the winner of Portland or Club America. Jim Curtin is going to be a highly sought after head coach, not only in MLS, but on the world stage.

9:53 pm ET—This evening’s vibe:

9:50 pm ET—Don’t forget to leave your final score predictions in our Prediction League! The bonus tonight is: Will Toronto FC or Cruz Azul score within the first 15 minutes of tonight’s match?

9:40 pm ET—The big takeaway from the Starting XI this evening is the absence of Jozy Altidore (once again). According to Neil Davidson and Kristian Jack, he is feeling unwell. At least we’ll get to see Ayo Akinola play in his natural No. 9 position, with the likes of DeLeon and Shaffelburg providing the service. We know Ayo has the ability to score in bunches, so keep an eye on him early on.

9:35 pm ET—Welcome back to another live match thread TFC fans! We’re approximately 50 minutes away from kickoff with the Reds trailing 3-1 on aggregate. But you know the deal, score three tonight and we have a chance. Anything less than that ... and our CCL dream is over (once again). But forget about that! Positive vibes only tonight! We’re playing with house money & hoping for a Miracle in Mexico! Do you believe? Come on you Reds!

Starting XI

Toronto FC Starting XI vs. Cruz Azul: No Jozy Altidore for Toronto FC this evening.

Cruz Azul Starting XI vs. Toronto FC

Match Preview

TORONTO, Canada—Toronto FC will need nothing short of a miracle to overcome Cruz Azul in their second leg match Tuesday night, as the two sides will once again go head-to-head, this time down in Mexico City at the famous Estadio Azteca with the Reds trailing 3-1 on aggregate.

Chris Armas’ side will have to pull off this massive upset over the league-leaders in Mexico without the services of two of their designated players and focal points of their attack: Yeferson Soteldo and Alejandro Pozuelo.

Soteldo is still in Florida undergoing quarantine protocol after arriving last week from Brazil. Armas is hopeful that the Venezuelan international will be available to make his TFC debut this weekend vs. New York Red Bulls. Pozuelo, meanwhile, is still recovering from a thigh injury sustained in the team’s final preseason match April 1 vs Columbus Crew SC.

While Pozuelo is close to returning according Armas last week, he still is not 100 per cent, and the reigning MVP’s absence will once again be a huge obstacle the team needs to navigate past, especially considering Toronto need to score at least three goals if they want to secure their spot in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.

The positive news on the injury front is that centre-back Chris Mavinga is expected to return to the Toronto FC starting XI after missing the first five matches of the year with a left calf injury, while Richie Laryea also makes his return to the Toronto FC side after missing the opening leg as a result of a one-game suspension due to yellow card accumulation.

Up three away goals, Cruz Azul are unbeaten in their last 18 matches (15-0-3) in all competitions heading into this one, meaning the Reds are going to need all the help that they can get.

Despite the odds stacked heavily against the visitors, veteran midfielder Jonathan Osorio isn’t losing hope just yet.

“There will be chances there for us,” Osorio told media on Monday. “We believe in our team and that we’re not out of this tie. Anything can happen in football.”

The objective for the Reds Tuesday night will be simple: score at least three goals.

“We have to score three, so to score early is important, but if it doesn’t come, I don’t think we have to panic,” said Osorio. “If they score it doesn’t really change much for us. ... The start of the game is going to be important to set the tone for the rest of the match. We’re going there to score three goals, we have 90 minutes to do it.”

The last time Toronto FC played at the famous Azteca stadium, they found some success, gaining a 1-1 draw there with Club América in the CCL semifinals in 2018, winning that series 4-2 on aggregate. The goal scorer that night? Of course, Osorio, who has found the back of the net in each of the Reds last two contests after missing the start of the season with a thigh injury.

Another reason for a sliver of hope from the Reds is Cruz Azul’s ‘curse,’ which has seen them struggle to close out second leg ties. Most recently, in December 2020, the Mexican side carried a 4-0 lead on aggregate into the 2020 Liga MX semifinals against Pumas, but were ultimately ousted of the competition after conceding four of their own in the return leg.

Kickoff Tuesday night is at 10:15 pm ET and you can catch the match on OneSoccer.

How to Watch

Who: Toronto FC at Cruz Azul
When: Tuesday, May 4, 10:15 PM ET
Where: Azteca Stadium
Streaming: OneSoccer