It started out as promising as anyone on Toronto F.C. could’ve imagined.
Playing 4 games in 12 days is a tough task for any club, especially when your squad is battling injuries. But the win versus Cruz Azul has been the team’s only real positive since it began a string of games almost two weeks ago.
After taking it on the chin from New York, Toronto traveled to Panama on Tuesday to play Arabe Unido in the CONCACAF Champions League. Arabe is one of the weaker teams in TFC’s group, and the club was looking for an away win to give them six points and first place in their opening two games.
Poor field conditions forced the Panamanians to move from their usual stadium, and it looked like the change would help eliminate home field advantage: only 300 or so supporters were on hand to watch a brutal game from both sides.
Coach Preki has been saying that his club is serious about the Champions League but you wouldn’t be able to tell at the start of the game. Preki only slotted three regulars in the lineup, opting to give star players like Dwayne DeRosario and Mista the night off, and hoping the subs could grind out an away win.
That never happened. The only time TFC had any kind of spark was when DeRosario came on at the half… but by then it was too late. Arabe scored the only goal of the game early and held on for a 1-0 win, while Toronto seemed disinterested and finished the game with nine players when Nick Labrocca and Fuad Ibrahim picked up red cards.
With Toronto’s starters rested, it was back to MLS action and their quest to make the playoffs. It wouldn’t be easy as they hosted defending MLS cup champs Real Salt Lake at BMO field in Toronto. Real were also coming into this game off a Champions League battle with Cruz Azul in Mexico, losing a heartbreaker 5-4 in the final minute.
Toronto looked sharper in the opening half, with Canadian international Will Johnson starting on the bench for Salt Lake, along with teammate Robbie Findley. TFC couldn’t take advantage and went into the half tied at zero. Preki brought in Jacob Peterson and O’Brian White in the second half for some added offence, but they still couldn’t produce a goal as the team continues to struggle putting the ball in the back of the net. Real, on the other hand, has been a scoring machine this year without the benefit of a designated player… but they seemed a little unlucky, hitting four goal posts in the nil-nil draw.
In the four games Toronto has played, they have come away with three points in Champions League play and one point in MLS games. They get set to travel to Dallas next Saturday.