TFC Has Been Here Before
Lets not kid ourselves here folks. Without a doubt Toronto FC is a big underdog going into their second to last Champions League Group Stage game Tuesday evening against Pumas, arguably the class of the group, and one of the best club sides in all of CONCACAF.
FC Dallas, one of the best sides in MLS, just squeaked out a result against them in Mexico against their reserves. And we all of course saw the pasting that the Reds took in Mexico when Pumas decided to play something near to a full strength side. The game was over early with four goals conceded in the first forty odd minutes, then it was fifty minutes of keep away on the part of the Mexicans.
A friend on the U Sector supporter message board (Thanks Mike!) succinctly laid out what the scenarios from the game Tuesday actually might mean for Toronto FC and their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages. I will quote him here:
“…WE DO NOT NEED TO BEAT PUMAS TO STILL CONTROL OUR OWN DESTINY. The key thing is to NOT LOSE.
A loss on Tuesday against Pumas combined with a Dallas win in Panama would see TFC eliminated. However, even if Dallas wins a draw would see the Reds on 7 points and Dallas on 10 points going into the final match. Any victory where we score two or more goals (even if we only win by one goal) would see us equal Dallas on points and pass them in the head to head tiebreaker. So long as Pumas doesn’t lose at home to Tauro (creating a three team tie) we’d go through ahead of Dallas.
To reiterate: a loss on Tuesday could see TFC eliminated but the real “must win” game will most likely be in Dallas on the final matchday..”
Suspensions of key players, travel to and from the west coast and some questionable choices of who to play and not play in Los Angeles last weekend make the task that much more difficult undoubtedly.
Difficult yes, but not impossible.
Pumas , if press reports out of Mexico City are to be believed, might go with more of a “reserve side look” so to speak for this match considering that they have a huge derby against fellow Mexico City side Club America this upcoming weekend and that a draw or even a loss would not be the end of the world for them in this game. In the military they call this approach “economy of force” trying to make the calculation of exactly what amount of top quality resources and not one bit more to allocate to a match to get the desired result. The bottom line is that we may see a definitely weaker Pumas side Tuesday evening then we saw on display in Mexico City two weeks ago. On the other hand early afternoon Tweets from BMO Field state that key Pumas players Velarde, Palencia & Bravo (he of the hat trick two weeks ago against Toronto) all made the trip. Whether they feature remains to be seen.
The other point that supporters often forget when looking at these kind of scenarios in advance is that the favourite does not always win the game. Yes Pumas are a superior club, and yes TFC will be without arguably its most important player in Torsten Frings. But the game still has to be played and Toronto FC has shown previously that upsets can happen in this competition, even when the odds are long and conditions/circumstances are against you.
Here, in video form (courtesy of TFC TV) are Exhibit ‘A’ and Exhibit ‘B’
So bone up on your Spanish swears and bring your A Game supporters to BMO Field this evening. Nothing less than a result will do.