FT — The Reds lose pathetically. 4-0 final in La Chorrera, and it’s time for bed.
78’ Independiente 4-0 Toronto FC — You have got to be kidding.
77’ — Jay Chapman is TFC’s third sub, on for Griffin Dorsey.
56’ — Toronto FC have made some changes Ayo Akinola and Jacob Shaffelburg (!!!!) are entering the game for Terrence Boyd and Ashtone Morgan.
52’ Independiente 3-0 Toronto FC — We’re not even gonna bother.
48’ Independiente 2-0 Toronto FC — Omar Browne steps past a poorly timed Laurent Ciman tackle and belts it over Bono’s outstretched hand into the very top of the net. Excellent finish, but very poor from Ciman. The Reds are now in a hole.
45’ — We’re back out. No changes for TFC, but we’ll see how long they stick with this eleven. Long way to go here, though.
HT — Well, the Reds go into the break down a goal and looking lacklustre. Maybe I’ll go check out the Leafs ga— oh. Anyway, TFC could do with a boost. Maybe Vanney will look at making a change to start the second half, with players like Tsubasa Endoh and Ayo Akinola on the bench.
31’ — TFC win a penalty! And Terrence Boyd steps up to take it! Buuuuut he skies it. Badly. The ball sails well over the crossbar and probably landed in the Pacific Ocean. Penalty kicks continue to haunt this club.
23’ — A decent chance comes for TFC as Boyd flicks a clever backheel toward Osorio, but the Independiente keeper came out to dive on the ball. Positive stuff the last few minutes.
18’ — Independiente came VERY close to scoring a second goal as a long lofted pass fell perfectly for their striker, who somehow shanked it across goal without being challenged. Lucky break for the Reds.
15’ — Mavinga is very upset as he’s called for a foul (and booked) after what he — and I — thought was an excellent clean tackle. Shooter does his best Sebastian Giovinco impression and curls it wide of the left post.
9’ Independiente 1-0 Toronto FC — Oh boy are TFC ever back. The ball is lifted into the box and it’s hacked by Abdiel Ayarza into the right corner of the net through Chris Mavinga’s legs. Rough start, against the run of play.
7’ — Not even ten minutes in and boy is this Concacaf. An Independiente player has been booked for flying studs-up into Chris Mavinga (maybe should’ve been sent off), and now both Terrence Boyd and Ashtone Morgan have made aggressive challenges.
Welcome back to Concacaf! pic.twitter.com/nhXDA9b7q4— Mitchell Tierney (@mitchelltierney) February 20, 2019
5’ — Toronto have had the majority of the chances just a few minutes in; they’ve had some significant offensive pressure through both Justin Morrow and Griffin Dorsey.
0’ — LET’S PLAY FOOTBALL! The clubs are out on the pitch to a TON of fireworks and a weirdly distorted loop of the bass riff from “Seven Nation Army.” Proper Concacaf. I love it.
Bench: Patterson-Sewell, Campbell, Shaffelburg, Endoh, Chapman, Fraser, Akinola
As I stare out the window at the foot of snow piled on my back porch, my mind (totally not resentfully) floats to Toronto FC, who currently await kickoff La Chorrera, Panama — where the temperature will be 26 Celsius at 8 p.m. when the Reds open their 2019 Concacaf Champions League campaign away to Independiente FC.
The now-gone off-season has been extremely long, but somehow it seems to have flown by (just me?). It’s been turbulent as hell — Sebastian Giovinco, Victor Vazquez, Gregory van der Wiel, and a number of other players are out of the picture, as we welcome the likes of Nick DeLeon and Laurent Ciman into the fold. This winter (especially the last couple of weeks) has brought tons of drama, most of which has yet to be resolved. Above all, the Reds are still without that third Designated Player they’ve committed to signing.
Here we are, though. An actual, live, competitive game. TFC will take to the pitch in front of probably about 3,000 fans in the Estadio Agustin Sanchez. It’s really hard to get a read on this, because who knows how Greg Vanney is planning on lining up his squad — wingers? A more familiar system with wingbacks?
We don’t know much about Independiente, either. They’re the Panamanian champions, and they’re joint-first in their league four games into the new season as well. Wikipedia says one of their nicknames is Los Vikingos, though, so that’s pretty damn cool.
On paper, TFC’s roster definitely has more experience and a better pedigree than their opponent’s. Whether that translates to on-field results in the first game of the season, though, is another question. During last year’s CCL campaign we were robbed of a proper vintage Concacaf away date at a tiny stadium, so thankfully we’ll at least get that this time around.
The Reds aren’t being given much of a chance in this competition by pundits. Is this where they prove them wrong?
Team news: injuries & suspensions
Toronto FC: Jozy Altidore will miss the first few games of the season as he recovers from his foot injury. A Neil Davidson article also suggests Drew Moor may be dealing with a leg injury, but whether that’s enough to keep him out is unclear.
Independiente: God knows.
Guide to La Chorrera, Panama (Lonely Planet)
How to watch:
Match date/time: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 8 p.m. ET
TV channel: TSN 4 (Canada)
Live stream: TSN GO (Canada), Yahoo Sports