The first big test for Toronto FC for the season was the first leg of the round of 16 in the CONCACAF Scotian Bank Champions league that kicked off on Tuesday February 19th. If there is any indication of how the rest of the competitive year will be let’s just say, it does not look good. Big factors also coming into to play this season is the departure of Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vázquez leaving the team scrambling to look for their replacements in an improving MLS league, which begins on March 2nd for the Reds in Philadelphia against the Union.
Toronto’s first opponents in the
Scotia Bank Champions League competition are Panama’s Club Atletico
Independiente who claimed the Panamanian Soccer league championship this last
year for their 2018 season. They came into the tournament against Toronto
having begun their league’s regular season with 4 games under their repertoire.
The first leg of the home and away competition set-up had the Reds travelling
to Estadio Agustin Sanchez in La Chorrea Panama, home of the CAI team.
Toronto’s loss to CAI with a final
score of 4-0 was a surprising defeat in the competition due to the expectations
for Toronto coming off as runners up in last year’s final of the Champions league.
TFC are heavily favorites to win this duel and advancing to the next round
without much difficulty but CAI had different ideas on how things would unfold.
The first goal came very quickly in the 8th minute and would remain 1-0 until
the first few minutes of the second half with a great strike to the top corner
of Bono’s net executed beautifully by CAI player Omar Browne. The reaming goals
would come later in the second half on the 52nd and 78th minute. This puts
Toronto in a deep hole to climb out upon their return to BMO field on February
26th and will have to win the match by at least 5 goals in order to advance.
Without their top scorer in Giovinco
and top play maker in Vazquez plus the results of their first competition in
Panama sure enough fans have a reason to worry, will it be another
disappointing season or can they return to the glory of 2017. Toronto looked
lost on the field with no great vision or creativity at the front and confusion
at the back.
The rest of
the clubs in the round of 16 first leg are Saprissa (Costa Rica) vs
Tigres UANL (Mexico) Atletico Pantoja (Dominican Republic) vs New
York Red Bulls (USA) Guastatoya (Guatemala) vs Houston Dynamo (USA)
Alianza (El Salvador) vs Monterrey (Mexico) Marathon (Honduras)
vs Santos Laguna (Mexico) Sporting Kansas (USA) vs Toluca (Mexico)
Herediano (Costa Rica) vs Atlanta United (USA).