Despite being quarantined for part of preseason at home in Toronto and then playing just scrimmages in Florida before it headed to Mexico, Toronto FC earned a 1-1 tie with Liga MX's Leon in the first leg of their round-of-16 series in the Concacaf Champions League.
The Reds, who were playing without 2020 MLS MVP Alejandro Pozuelo
, had plenty of luck.
Their equalizer in the 50th minute came when Leon defender Andres Mosquera
scored an own goal, sliding in to clear Erickson Gallardo
's pass to Jozy Altidore
but putting the ball into his own goal. Leon laid siege to the TFC goal in search of the winner but missed a slew of chances.
Toronto FC, which was also without Quentin Westberg
, Chris Mavinga
, Justin Morrow
, Jonathan Osorio, Nick DeLeon
and Ayo Akinola
, had Jozy Altidore
limp off in the 75th minute with an apparent leg injury.
The game was TFC's first under new head coach Chris Armas
, who praised his players for their effort.
"I love the way we stuck together," said Armas. "I loved the way we stepped on the field and straight away we were going to try to stick to being who we are and be aggressive on the night. That's what gets us the goal, from a pressing situation. I loved the way the guys dug deep, into the second half . Overall a gutsy performance."
Toronto FC will return to Florida, where it will host Leon in the second leg next Wednesday at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee. April 7 in Leon Leon 1 Toronto FC 1.
Goal: Navarro 25; own goal 51. Leon --
Cota; Ramirez, Barreiro, Mosquera (Moreno 64), Tesillo; Colombatto Godínez 90+1), Navarro, Meneses; Mena, Davila (Gigliotti 63), Campbell. Toronto FC --
Bono; Laryea, Gonzalez, Zavaleta, Auro; Priso (Mullins 64), Bradley; Delgado, Okello (Gallardo 46; Dorsey 75), Shaffelburg (Singh 87); Altidore (Fraser 75).