Toronto FC’s slim hopes of progressing in CONCACAF Champions League play were dealt a crushing blow on Tuesday night at BMO Field when the Reds lost 3–1 to Santos Laguna of Mexico.
Last season’s Champions League finalists scored two very late goals to win the match—a match that TFC had to win.
The Reds fought back to tie the game with a goal in the 68th minute from Quincy Amarikwa, but shortly thereafter “bad luck” struck.
A black cat ran through TFC’s penalty area and behind goalkeeper Freddy Hall before disappearing into the stands. Santos Laguna began upping the pressure with their superior skill and teamwork.
Daniel Luduena side-footed a shot in at the far post in the 90th minute before Candido Ramirez added insult to injury two minutes later with another shot in at the far post.
Despite the loss, Toronto FC can take some positives from the match. Young winger Andrew Wiedeman, who was obtained from FC Dallas in the Julian de Guzman trade, looked sharp.
Wiedeman had two good shots at the Santos Laguna goal but narrowly missed. He also set up Amarikwa at the far post, but the latter missed an easy tap-in. It should be said that Oribe Peralta missed an even easier tap-in in the first half.
Also, Toronto FC started the match brightly before the Mexicans gained control with their possession. Hall did make a couple of good saves; he’d be hard to blame for any of Santos Laguna’s well-worked goals. Toronto FC’s defense was made to look vulnerable on the Santos Laguna goals.
Toronto FC has two remaining Champions League matches. Its group, with Santos Laguna and Aguila, is highly unbalanced with Santos Laguna being a very strong side and Aguila being extremely weak (-9 goal differential after two games). Only the group winner progresses to the next stage under the new format.
TFC faces a daunting trip to Mexico to face Santos Laguna. They lost 6–2 there in last year’s Champions League semifinal second leg.
In MLS, Toronto FC has its work cut out to escape the basement with eight games remaining. With a three point deficit behind second-last place Portland, TFC travels to face Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports
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