Game: Club América vs. Toronto FC
Date: Tuesday, April 10th
Time: 10:00 PM Eastern, 9:00 PM Central, 7:00 PM Pacific, 3:00 AM UTC
Venue: Estadio Azteca (Ciudad de México)
Miguel Herrera and Club América suffered one of the most embarrassing losses in team history when they fell 3-1 on the road to MLS champions Toronto FC in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal tie.
The Canadian team easily outclassed a las Águilas side that looked completely unlike the resilient team that is sitting in 3rd place of the Liga MX standings. Young defender Carlos Vargas, who has had a phenomenal tournament, was simply outclassed by veteran Toronto FC attackers Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco. His defensive errors easily allowed the home side to have a plethora of goalscoring opportunities from close range against a helpless Augustín Marchesín in net.
When they had possession of the ball, Club América looked helplessly one dimensional. Toronto FC managed to clog up passing lanes and forced attacking players to beat them with the ball at their feet. Often times, it was a Club América attacker going one on two or three leading to a easy dispossession for the defense.
The embarrassing defeat came on the heels of several inflammatory remarks that Miguel Herrera made during a pre-match press conference. Essentially, Herrera said that Liga MX teams are closer to being on the same level of top European squads than their lousy MLS counterparts.
Following the match, Herrera made several more inflammatory remarks during his press-conference. The first of which was Herrera claiming that he knew that Club América weren’t going to have a fair shot to win the match as soon as he saw that the head referee was Costa Rican. The second such comment was made about an altercation between Club América and Toronto FC players in the tunnel headed back to the dressing rooms. Herrera claimed that Toronto Police had unfairly roughed up his players during the halftime altercation.
For their part, Toronto FC players and staff were able to ignore the noise that Miguel Herrera created with his inflammatory comments and execute their game plan to perfection. The Toronto FC defense were able to easily shut down the potent Club América attack by forcing them to become one demential and beat two or three defenders with the ball at their feet. Offensively, the Canadian side masterfully used their chances to put points up on the board. Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore terrorized the Mexico City side’s backline so badly that they are probably still having nightmares about it. The match simply could not have gone any better for the MLS Champions.
The Canadian side had their match over the weekend postponed and arrived in Mexico on Thursday. The team has been training at Pachuca’s facilities in order to accustom themselves to the brutal affects of the elevation in Mexico City. Toronto FC should look to be in as good of shape for their match in Mexico City as any visiting squad ever is.
Club América on the other hand is coming into the match on the back of a Saturday evening match against Necaxa in which star midfielder Cecilio Domínguez picked up an injury that has left him in doubt for the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions league semifinals. Jérémy Ménez also remains out with an injury that he picked up earlier in the Liga MX season.
If Cecilio Domínguez is unable to play, it is difficult to see Club América overcoming the two goal deficit that they are currently faced with. However, should they pull off the comeback it wouldn’t be the first time that the Mexico City squad has overcome a multiple goal deficit from the first leg. In the 2015 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, Club América came from down 3-0 on aggregate against Costa Rican side Herediano and ended up advancing with a final aggregate score of 6-3.
Toronto FC is no Herediano. In fact, they are a much better squad. However, nothing is impossible. If las Águilas can put some of their best fútbol of 2018 on display they might just have a chance to do the unthinkable and reach yet another continental championship.