Toronto FC's Champions League Comes to Disappointing End
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Toronto—Toronto FC’s CONCACAF Champions League aspirations came to a disappointing end on Tuesday night as they were eliminated by Independiente after a 1-1 draw and 5-1 on aggregate. Taking into account that Toronto went to the Champions League final last year, this first round exit to a team they should've defeated is disappointing.
Toronto FC had their back against the wall heading into the second-leg; they were down 4-0 and needed to win 5-0 if they wanted to advance to the next round on aggregate. The first-leg was disappointing for Toronto in that they looked as though they were a step behind of their competition and were unable to find their rhythm offensively.
Coach Greg Vanney made some changes to the lineup in the second-leg that saw Ayo Akinola, Nick Deleone, and Jordan Hamilton replace Ashtone Morgan, Griffin Dorsey and Terrance Boyd in the starting eleven.
Toronto FC looked significantly better than they did in the first-leg and were able to use their passing to open up space and spread out Independiente’s defence. Toronto’s pressure paid off when Jordan Hamilton scored a header in the nineteenth minute after a cross from Justin Morrow, to get his team on the board and within three goals on the aggregate score line.
Justin Morrow had a few scoring opportunities in the first half but was unable to capitalize on them as they were both on his right foot, which isn’t his dominant side. Chris Mavinga also had a few opportunities to score but missed the net.
During halftime, Kristian Jack reported that Toronto FC had come to an agreement with designated player Jozy Altidore on a contract extension. Although the signing is not official, Altidore will remain with the team through the 2022 season. This extension is important because it helps ensure that TFC don’t experience the same problem they did last month when Sebastian Giovinco was sold to Al-Hilal for less than what he’s believed to be worth. In addition, it was reported that Toronto FC had also come to terms on a deal with Spanish midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo from Belgian club Genk. Pozuelo will be a designated player and will earn €4M for four seasons.
Toronto’s missed opportunities came back to haunt them in the second half as Independiente’s Omar Browne scored the crucial away goal in the 68th minute following a misdirected header by Laurent Ciman allowed Browne to go on a breakaway and beat Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono to make it 1-1 and 5-1 on aggregate. With the goal, Toronto FC needed another five goals if they wanted to advance and in the event of a tie, they would still be eliminated because Independiente scored an away goal.
TOR Hamilton 19’
CAI Browne 68’
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Photo Credit: Toronto FC