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Toronto Making a Move in the Eastern Conference

5993921703 6d1c5a4d09 Toronto Making a Move in the Eastern Conference

Photo by Jeff Keacher

No road wins this season.  A minus 22 goal differential.  Six games lost where they gave up three goals or more, including a 4-0 loss and a 6-2 loss.  Nineteen points, the third lowest in the league.  More trades than a Wall Street stock broker.  To be blunt, there has been little for Toronto FC fans to be cheery about this season.

However, with their 2-1 victory over Real Estalí in the second leg of their CCL preliminary round match-up, Toronto advances in this prestigious continental tournament fairly easily.  Last week, the Reds broke a scoreless first half with two goals from sub Joao Plata to win the BMO Field leg, while constantly challenging the Estalí defense with 19 shots.  The diminutive forward had missed Toronto’s prior match with a visa issue but made his presence felt in last week’s game.

Last night, needing a draw or win to advance, Toronto traveled to Nicaragua and came out with an impressive 2-1 win.  The Estalí away goal was negated in the 37th minute when Ryan Johnson launched an impressive strike top-shelf past Estalí keeper Carlos Mendieta to put Toronto up 3-1 on aggregate.  Estalí would draw closer when a penalty was called on newcomer Andy Iro in first-half stoppage time for a handball (his second penalty in as many games).  Manuel Rosas converted the PK to make it 1-1, 3-2 on aggregate.

But just as in their last CCL game, it was a brace that sealed the deal for Toronto.  Johnson, who came to Toronto in a trade with San Jose, collected a poor clearance from Mendieta and on the break beat the keeper to seal the deal for Toronto early in the second half.  For the rest of the game the Reds’ defense did a good job holding down the home team despite playing in a hostile environment.

Toronto now advances to Group C in the CCL where they will face Pumas UNAM (Mexico), Tauro (Panama), and the winner of FC Dallas/Alianza FC (El Salvador).  But more importantly advancing in this tournament gives the Reds so much needed momentum in the second half of the MLS season.  They have already won the Nutrilite Canadian Championship (their spot in the CCL) and continuing to play international clubs helps give the team as a team needed experience.

To recount all of the trades Toronto have made would be a separate post in itself, but there is no doubt the team needed an injection of new talent.  In year one of the Aron Winters experiment (which would make a great reality show), the players from last year’s roster were not cutting it in the new 4-3-3 Total Football system.  Rather than take previous years’ approach of making a few offseason moves to placate the fans, the Reds’ decided to torpedo this year’s roster now to move up their rebuild.

Despite the new players, the results haven’t been there quite yet.  They struggled in July but ended on a positive note with their 2-2 comeback draw with Portland.  Their upcoming schedule gives them a chance to continue building some momentum.  Their next match is Saturday at RFK Stadium, where DC United has struggled all year.  After hosting Real Salt Lake, they travel to Chicago (below them in the conference) and host the suddenly struggling Earthquakes.  If they can string together some positive results, they can finish the season with a modicum of decency and continue to try and advance in the CONCACAF Champions League.  The 2011 MLS season will not end in the playoffs for Toronto, but there is a chance they can finish strong with an eye towards a deeper run using their new system next season.

This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, Toronto FC and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Toronto Making a Move in the Eastern Conference

  1. Charles says:

    Aug 3rd and it is wait till next year. Ouch. With a 10 team playoff format. Double Ouch.

    Luckily they are in Canada and have an easy path to CCL.
    Although I am glad they made group stage, I give them about zero chance of advancing. Pumas and Dallas have to be HUGE favorites.

    Sounders tonight !…bought my tickets last night !
    I was told they have sold over 20k tickets for the game. Should be a blast for all that are going…unless they continue the underperforming nightmare of CCL.
    If they make it, they will be in last year’s champ Monterrey’s group again this year….REVENGE.

  2. DCLee says:

    Happy for Toronto and will be rooting hard for the Sounders and Dallas tonight. Great and not a surprise that they will have great attendance for the game tonight. I thought it was cool that Real Estelli had a full house last night from the looks of it even if it was only 6-8k. Looked good full.

    Was unaware of Monterrey being in the Sounders group should they advance so I will be rooting hard for them so hopefully they can get some revenge for themselves and the league!

    United will hopefully bring Toronto back down to earth this weekend:) Then they can just focus on CCL.

    • Charles says:

      So DC plays Toronto at home and NY plays Salt Lake on the road ?

      NY could be ( should be ? ) in 5th place by the end of the weekend…..IN THE EAST. I believe that would put them out of the playoffs, replaced by your United. Good thing Backe doesn’t care.

      I hate to say I told you so…no I don’t…I told you so ! NY is a step below the top teams in the west.

      ps. I still think they make the playoffs.
      …and I was very wrong on Henry with a chance at MVP. a legit deserved chance.

      • DCLee says:

        Congrats on the great and hard fought win last night. That keeper for San Fran was impressive and made some big time stops to give them a chance. Jacqua should have scored on one of his first touches of the game in the 2nd half but the keeper was huge. I was worried if it went to PKs and was glad to see Seattle as well as Dallas go through. 5 teams in the group stage for the first time ever!! Maybe MLS will knock a Mexican team or 2 out of the quarterfinals. TFC and Dallas could place 1-2 in their group. The great thing that i noticed about these was that teams were fielding their starting 11 for the most part in all 3 of their games. Win or lose it is nice to know the league gave their best effort:)

  3. CA says:

    I hope things turn out well for Toronto. MLS is better with Toronto and their great fans being part of the mix.

    I like that Winter is trying to play a possession game, I’m just not sure if he’s got the talent to do it. Last night’s victory was great for the team, but a lot of the game was pretty sloppy and messy. Having said that, I think Plata is for real, and eventually will be picked up by a Euro club.

  4. Alex says:

    5 seasons and it looks like no playoffs for them. Fans can’t blame winters I think he’s a coach that cares a lot about turning this club around more than any other coach before but fans can’t blame winters cuz its been like this with every other coach. It’s mlse fault. But I’m not a tfc fan so I don’t care but with mls preference for the loser clubs I’m sure mls will prop tfc with drafts and allocation money for next season. I’m surprised we re not saying this about skc with the way they started the season I thought they surely be out the playoff zone.

    Njrb got some ground to make up for their stupid tactics in preparation for the mickey cup overseas dcu is starting to catch up to overtake them. I love their arrogance though, as if the cup is won on paper.

    As for the ccl I felt sorry for real estali I watched the game I could tell it meant a lot to their fans. But eh, that’s soccer. But I’m counting if LAG won’t advance to playoffs no mls club will in the ccl

  5. SSReporters says:

    Our defense is swiss cheese. Harden and Iro are garbage.

    Our team will be better next season but this season? The playoffs are done and we’ll probably only finish ahead of Vancouver in the standings.

    Definitely like how the attack is forming.

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