Liga MX side has a foot in the Club World Cup beating the Reds at home in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final
BMO Field was the venue of the biggest football match at club level in Canadian history last night. The Reds, as they are known to local hopefuls, hosted Mexican mid-table side Club Deportivo Guadalajara (known affectionately as “Chivas” by their fans) in the first leg of an unlikely Champions League final.
Toronto FC entered the match after a defeat in Colorado (a side that they eliminated in the Round of 16) that featured no starters. In fact, all but central defender Drew Moor were rested in that match in an effort to maximize TFC’s chances of performing well in the “big due” at BMO.
Guadalajara, currently 13th in the Liga MX, having won only 3 games this season, drawing 6, and losing 6. Their Champions League dream has been, one can argue, a distraction for them – just as it has for Toronto FC, who has only 3 points in 4 matches, occupying last place in the Eastern Conference.
TFC coach Greg Vanney opted for a 3-5-2 formation with Bono between the posts; Van der Wiel, Moor and Mavinga at the back; Bradley right in front of the defence, with Delgado, Osorio in front of him, flanked by Morgan and Auro; and the canonical Giovinco-Altidore strikeforce up top.
The hosts boast an all-Mexican side featuring a 4-5-1 formation (just like Club America, the last Mexican side to play TFC in the Champions League) Jimenez in goal, Cisneros, Salcido, Alanis, Mayorga; with Perez and Pineda as holding midfielders; Brizuela, Pulido and Pizarro as attacking midfielders behind lone striker Godinez.
The weather is a very popular topic among Canadians, especially this week. An ice storm hit Ontario’s capital this weekend, capping off an atypical cold period. BMO Field grounds crew must be commended for their effort in making sure that the pitch was in playing conditions, thanks to the use of inflatable tarps, heating system underground, and a lot of elbow grease.
However atypical, the cold proved not to be an ally for Toronto FC. A shock start for the home side saw Chivas take the lead in the second minute: off of a throw in, Brizuela centred the ball for Pizarro who puts it passed Bono. 1-0 CD Guadalajara.
A few minutes later Bono comes up big to keep the deficit at one goal. Guadalajara man marks very tightly, leaving no space for TFC. While the away side seems to be living their best moment, TFC find the equalizer: Altidore gathers from 20 yards out, dishes a pass to Delgado who squares across goal for Osorio to net his fourth Champions League goal. 1-1.
Giovinco gets involved mostly from the dead ball situation, but his free kicks are parried well by the opposing keeper Jimenez. At the 33rd minute a dream combination between Osorio-Giovinco-Auro-Altidore sees the American striker’s sure shot deflected into corner by the Mexican goalkeeper.
Ten minutes later TFC seems destined for the go-ahead goal with a gorgeous one-two between Altidore and Giovinco, but Jimenez is once more decisive.
The height of the Italian’s activity ends at the half, with his shot muted by Cisneros who marks him well and reduces his chances to score on a diagonal shot at the end of the first 45 minutes.
Zavaleta substitutes Mavinga at half time, but TFC resumes where they left off. Giovinco tries a knucke-ball free kick at the 57th minute from central position, Jimenez can’t hold on but concedes the corner.
Two minutes later, Moor comes up the middle, exchanges the ball with Altidore and can’t get enough on it to beat Jiminez.
Vanney tries Morrow in for Morgan on the wing, maintaining a 3-5-2 formation.
Suddenly, against the run of play, CD Guadalajara take the lead thanks to a thunderous free kick from an odd angle by Pulido. One that Bono will later on take responsibility for:
At the 75th minute, Giovinco looks to be pulled down. Costa Rican referee Montero says no, gesturing to the Italian to get up.
Five minutes later Giovinco wreaks havoc in the box, takes 3 defenders along with him, shoots, the ball bounces to Osorio whose shot is deflected out.
Vanney plays the Aketxe card for the last ten minutes. The Basque midfielder crosses the ball with his velvet left foot to Moor, who just can’t put it on net for the last significant scoring chance of the match.
Pulido’s strike the difference between the two sides. TFC are hard done by, ruing their chances, and giving up two avoidable goals.
Faint hope remains for the return match in Guadalajara for the Reds in a week’s time.
“I’m very happy with this result, but I’m thinking only about the present, not about the World Cup of Clubs. The tie is still open, with 90 minutes still to play. We respect all of our rivals equally, have humility, unity, and self confidence and take advantage in at the end of the first 90 minutes into the second leg”.
Matias Almeyda, CD Guadalajara Coach
“Gave up a tough goal two minutes in. Now we have a bit of a hole to dig ourselves out of in the return match. After the first goal, there was a great reaction, we also played better for the rest of the first half”.
“Yea, I think Bono misjudged the shot by Pulido – you can ask him”.
“We will prioritize the second leg of the Champions League [second leg] over the domestic league”.
Greg Vanney, Toronto FC Coach