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article imageMLS: TFC draw Pumas in CONCACAF Champions League Special

By Aman Dhanoa     Sep 28, 2011 in Sports
Toronto - Down but not out.
Despite being officially eliminated from the MLS playoff race on the weekend, Toronto FC were able to stay alive in CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) with a much needed point in a 1-1 draw against defending Mexican champions Pumas UNAM.
TFC forward Peri Marosevic opened the scoring in 35th minute before Pumas defender Marco Palacios evened the score early on a header early in the second half. With the point, Toronto moved into a second place tie temporarily with FC Dallas on seven points, while Pumas now leads group C with eight points. Dallas takes on last-place Tauro FC on Wednesday night in Panama City to end the fifth set of games of the group stage.
Even with home field advantage, Toronto had the odds stacked against itself heading into the match because of a short lineup. After all, it was just two weeks ago when Pumas outclassed TFC 4-0 with its full squad when both teams played in Mexico City. Luckily for Toronto, the Mexican club started only two of its regulars on Tuesday – giving the TFC better odds against a superior club with tremendous depth.
“I think it’s an advantage, you cannot compare Pumas and Toronto FC,” said Head Coach and Technical Director, Aron Winter after the match. “They are working with a bigger budget and a bigger roster. They are not re-building like we are.”
“Also we have had a short recovery period following the Chivas (USA) game, but if you have a bigger roster it’s easy and they have more quality than us, they are the champions of Mexico and that says a lot in that league.”
FC striker Danny Koevermans battles a Pumas player for the loose ball
FC striker Danny Koevermans battles a Pumas player for the loose ball
John Lucero
Toronto was missing three players due to accumulation of yellow cards including its best player and leader Torsten Frings, along with Terry Dunfield and Mikael Yourrassowsky. Joao Plata was still out with a hamstring injury and Eric Avila was ineligible to play after representing FC Dallas earlier in the competition prior to his trade to Toronto in August.
Meanwhile, Pumas started a lineup with only two regulars - captain Dario Veron and David Cabrera - and seven players under 23, including three 19-year-olds. Pumas coach Guillermo Vasquez decided to rest his starters because of a big derby against Club America in the Mexican Apertura. The team was coming off four straight wins, including a 2-1 win over Tecos on Saturday and is a single point away from first place.
Under those circumstances Toronto did an admirable job holding its own with a younger and less experienced lineup. However, the fact that TFC could have come away with the three points left the team to believe the draw was a missed opportunity.
“I think when you watch the whole game, before you’d be happy with one point but after the match there is a little disappointment that we gave it away,” said Winter.
“There are two sides, happy but also disappointed. Disappointed because we could have won the game and happy because we were missing a lot of players from our line-up and the younger players we used deserve big compliments.”
TFC goalkeeper Milos Kocic (centre) reacts to the header on the game-tying goal
TFC goalkeeper Milos Kocic (centre) reacts to the header on the game-tying goal
John Lucero
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was how TFC gave up the tying goal – off yet another set piece and leaving an opposing player unmarked in the box. It’s an all too familiar theme this season and has many players frustrated that history keeps repeating itself.
“It’s disappointing especially since we are conceding goals on set pieces,” said midfielder Matt Stinson.
“I think that’s the most disappointing thing, not the fact that we tied but the fact they we gave away a goal we shouldn’t have conceded. It only takes a couple seconds and we should be able to keep the zero, it’s disappointing but we’re still growing as a team and it’s something that will take time.”
Added Marosevic, “When you have everyone back you need to be able to clear it and obviously it happens, but it’s happened a little too often and we need to be strong in the box, we need to take responsibility, every single person has to come up with a win.”
Defensive Breakdown
Toronto started the match slowly as Pumas pressured and pushed the ball forward and created majority of the scoring chances early on. In the eighth minute, Michelle Castro nearly capitalized on a giveaway by TFC forward Nick Soolsma but was stopped by Milos Kocic. Then in the 19th minute defender Diego De Buen drilled a volley off the left post – an incredible strike that was inches from giving Pumas the early lead.
Despite the pressure from the Mexican club, TFC were eventually able to slow down the pace of the game and find some space going forward.
Players from both teams watch Marosevic s shot go past sliding goalkeeper Odin Patino on the opening...
Players from both teams watch Marosevic's shot go past sliding goalkeeper Odin Patino on the opening goal
John Lucero
In the 35th minute, Toronto was awarded a freekick from 25 yards out that was kicked into the box by Julian de Guzman. Ryan Johnson headed the ball over to Danny Koevermans who made one touch before turning around to make a pass back into the middle. Marosevic was wide open and wasted no time to slot the ball inside the far post past goalkeeper Odin Patino.
After the goal, TFC started to play a more defensive style and at times had five on the back line. The formation resembled the 5-2-3 the team used in parts of past matches with Frings usually playing a sweeping role just ahead of the central defenders.
The defensive strategy did not work for long as Pumas were able to pull even early in the second half. In the 51st minute from a corner kick, Palacios was not marked well by Ty Harden or Andy Iro and headed the ball past Kocic to tie the game at 1-1. Kocic got a piece of the ball but not enough to keep it out.
Toronto had a good chance to pull ahead in the 77th minute when substitute Javier Martina played the ball to Johnson in the box. The forward then made a touch and moved left before spinning and firing on goal but his shot was deflected and Patino swatted the ball away for a big save.
Pumas defender Marco Palacios leaps in the air to celebrate his game-tying goal early in the second ...
Pumas defender Marco Palacios leaps in the air to celebrate his game-tying goal early in the second half
John Lucero
In the 82nd minute, Pumas forward Emilio Arrantia drilled a shot from just over 20 yards out but it was headed down by defender Iro. However, the ball continued to move forward and bounced off the right post in what was another close call for the Kocic and the Reds.
Pumas had a couple of other chances in the dying minutes but TFC held together defensively to hang on for the draw.
The final CCL group stage match for TFC takes place on October 18 in Dallas but the team may not have control of its own destiny. The team will be closely watching Wednesday’s game between FCD and Tauro.
“Of course we still have control in our hands. Dallas is not going to win easily away at Tauro. Everyone has underestimated Tauro because they are a good team and if you want to go further then we have to win in Dallas.”
The Reds will now look ahead to its next match in league play on Saturday as TFC hosts the New York Red Bulls at BMO Field with kickoff at 7:30pm ET. The Red Bulls climbed back into the playoff race with a 2-0 victory at home to the Portland Timbers on Saturday. On the same day Toronto was officially eliminated from playoff contention with a 3-0 road loss to Chivas USA.
Toronto FC starting lineup (l-r) - Back row: Nick Soolsma  Danny Koevermans  Andy Iro  Ty Harden  Mi...
Toronto FC starting lineup (l-r) - Back row: Nick Soolsma, Danny Koevermans, Andy Iro, Ty Harden, Milos Kocic and Ryan Johnson. Front Row: Peri Marosevic, Richard Eckersley, Julian de Guzman, Matt Stinson and Ashtone Morgan.
John Lucero
TOR 70- Peri MAROSEVIC 35’ ( 14- Danny KOEVERMANS ), PUM 3- Marco PALACIOS 51’ (64- Erik VERA)
Toronto FC (CAN): 3 0- Milos KOCIC; 5- Ashtone MORGAN, 3- Andy IRO, 20- Ty HARDEN, 27- Richard ECKERSLEY (26- Matthew GOLD 75’), 6- Julian de GUZMAN, 15- Matt STINSON, 18- Nicky SOOLSMA (33- Javier MARTINA 65’), 9- Ryan JOHNSON, 14- Danny KOEVERMANS (4- Doneil HENRY 45’), 70- Peri MAROSEVIC.
SUBS: 24- Stefan FREI; 2- Demitrius OMPHROY, 4- Doneil HENRY, 11- Nathan STURGIS, 25- Danleigh BORMAN, 26- Matthew GOLD, 33- Javier MARTINA
Pumas UNAM (MEX): 13- David PATINO; 64- Erik VERA, 4- Dario VERON, 5- Diego DE BUEN, 62- Neftali TEJA, 3- Marco PALACIOS, 8- David CABRERA (7- Javier CORTES 45’), 11- David IZAZOLA, 15- Michelle CASTRO, 35- Eduardo HERRERA (10- Martin BRAVO 73’), 67- Kevin QUIÑONES (18- Emilio ORRANTIA 45’).
TD: Guillermo VAZQUEZ.
SUBS: 25- Alfredo SALDIVAR; 2- Efrain VELARDE, 7- Javier CORTES, 10- Martin BRAVO, 18- Emilio ORRANTIA, 24- Juan Carlos CACHO, 38- Juan Carlos RAMIREZ.
15- Matt STINSON 21’ (Yellow)
11- David IZAZOLA 77’ (Yellow)
5- Ashtone MORGAN 90+’ (Yellow)
Sent offs: None
This article was originally published on Oye! Times
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