Toronto FC opens CONCACAF Champions League play with loss to Panama club
LA CHORRERA, PANAMA—A sluggish Toronto FC suffered a nightmarish start to its CONCACAF Champions League campaign in a 4-0 loss Tuesday to Panama’s Club Atletico Independiente de la Chorrera in a round-of-16 game.
The MLS side, which made it to the final of last year’s competition, has dug itself a deep hole it will try to play its way out of in the Feb. 26 return leg at BMO Field. Unable to register a valuable away goal Tuesday, it will need a scoring spree.
The knockout tournament features 16 top club teams from CONCACAF, which represents North and Central America and the Caribbean. The winner advances to the FIFA Club World Cup.
Romeesh Ivey had two goals and Abdiel Ayarza and Omar Browne also scored for Independiente, which sits second in the Panama league standings with a 2-0-1 record. On their home turf, the Panamanians’ pace gave the visitors trouble all night.
It was the first competitive game of 2019 for Toronto, which has seen star striker Sebastian Giovinco and Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez depart for greener pastures (Saudi Arabia and Qatar, respectively).
Toronto is actively looking for marquee replacements.
Nick Hagglund, Jason Hernandez, Clint Irwin and Tosaint Ricketts have also moved on since last season. Toronto is looking to move Dutch international Gregory van der Wiel after a spat with coach Greg Vanney.
Tuesday’s lack of offence showed Toronto is missing teeth up front and Vazquez’s ability to unlock defences. It also featured several ugly flashbacks from 2018.
TFC, which conceded an MLS-worst 13 goals in the first 15 minutes last season, was breached nine minutes into the game. And the team that lost last year’s Champions League final to Chivas Guadalajara via penalty shootout, saw new striker Terrence Boyd hammer a penalty well over the Independiente crossbar. A successful kick would have tied the game at 1-1.
The game was played on a warm evening (26 C) on artificial turf at the compact Estadio Agustin Sanchez (capacity 3,000). The forecast calls for snow showers and a temperature of -10 C in the return leg.
News Credit – TheStar