CCL: Toronto FC shows its class in knocking off storied Club America

For a third time, an MLS team has earned the right to lay claim to the Concacaf Champions League title.

Leading by two goals but with a Club America away goal hanging over its head, Toronto FC held its nerve Tuesday in a rainy Estadio Azteca to emerge with a 1-1 tie and a 4-2 aggregate victory that sends it into the CCL finals. It plays Chivas Guadalajara, which advanced by holding the Red Bulls to a 0-0 tie and prevailed, 1-0, from its goal in the first leg.

A Jonathan Osorio goal in the 12th minute, just five minutes after striker Jozy Altidore hobbled off injured with an injury picked up in warm-ups, turned the early momentum to TFC yet not until the second half unfolded could the MLS representative feel truly confident of knocking off the legendary Liga MX club.

Osorio finished off a superb move set in motion by Sebastian Giovinco, whose first-time through ball to Toissant Ricketts (Altidore’s replacement) was relayed into the middle for Osorio to roll into the net. Many times MLS fans have watched Liga MX teams score elegant yet simple goals in CCL play that typified the difference in class; TFC showed in this series it is at least the equal to this version of the most storied and successful club in the history of Mexican club soccer.

A few sharp saves by keeper Alex Bono – he saved six of America’s 29 shots and conceded only a stoppage-time penalty kick by Andres Uribe --  staved off America, which couldn’t transform its first-half dominance into the goal(s) it needed. In the first half, Las Aguilas outshot TFC 12-4 and controlled more than 60 percent of possession, yet went off the field trailing, 1-0.

Giovinco raised his game in the second half and forced a good save from a typically sharp free kick. As the rain poured down shouts and cheers from the dampened crowd slowly ebbed away and the inevitable became reality. Toronto FC joins Real Salt Lake (2010-11) and Montreal (2014-15) as the only MLS teams to reach the finals of the Concacaf Champions League, which originated in 2008. America is one of five Mexican teams to win the competition; Chivas has never done it.

Chivas and TFC face a quick turnaround for their showdown in the finals. The first leg will be played on Tuesday at BMO Field. Chivas earned the right to host the second leg on April 25 as the team with the better record through six games.
April 10 in Mexico City
Club America 1 Toronto FC 1. Goals: Uribe pen. 90+2; Osorio 12.
Club America -- Marchesin; Valdez, Aguilar, Aguilera, da Silva (Diaz 46), Ibarra, Ibarguen (Corona 79), Uribe, Rodriguez, Martin (Lainez 46), Peralta.
Toronto FC -- Bono; Moor, Zavaleta, van der Weil (Hasler 46), Morgan, Auro, Osorio, Bradley, Delgado, Giovinco, Altidore (Ricketts 7; Hamilton 80).
(Toronto wins 4-2 on aggregate.)

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