What a turn of events for both FC Dallas and Toronto FC in this MLS Season and in the CONCACAF Champions League. While Dallas has qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs, their dip in form has started to generate questions. While Toronto won’t be going to the playoffs again, their recent results have helped them improve in international cup competitions.
The acquisition of Ecuadorian youth Joao Plata has shown plenty of reason why Aron Winter stuck with him and used him in the starting eleven for Toronto and in the biggest match in the history of Toronto FC since 1996, where the club took down FC Dallas and advanced to the knockout stages.
Plata assisted on the first goal in the 29th minute as he found Danny Koevermans near the area. It was a blocked shot on Koevermans’ first chance, but he got a second attempt and converted it past Kevin Hartman for the early lead.
But in the second half it was all Plata all the time as he converted a brace and sent Toronto FC to the quarterfinals. In the 69th minute Ryan Johnson was along the near side, where he made a great cross near the area while Plata got into position and slotted the ball inside the far post.
His second of the night came in the 81st minute when he made a run from inside his own end at midfield. Beating a few defenders and getting inside the eighteen, Plata smacked a hard shot and all of Toronto was in party mood as they have equaled the Montreal Impact’s play in the 2008-09 Champions League.
The acquisitions of German international Torston Frings and former Ajax striker Danny Koevermans have paid off slowly for the club as Toronto FC knew they weren’t going to do much in the league, but came in at the right time for the CONCACAF Champions League.
This is a process that Toronto has to build on to make themselves successful in the league and not try for quick fixes like they have done in the past that ended up as failures. Aron Winter and Paul Mariner have done a good job and deserve credit for doing things the right way.
As for FC Dallas it looks like the long season with reaching the semi-Finals of the US Open Cup has started to take a toll on them. A dip in form and some results not going their way has lost a place in the quarterfinals after such a hot start.
But this is what happens if you’re having a terrible league season. You try to change your fortunes in a domestic cup or international cup competition to erase a horrible league season and this is what Toronto FC has done.
They went down to Pizza Hut Park and got themselves into the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, coming up in March, 2012.