TFC crash out of the Champions League

For Toronto FC there is very little left to play for.

In front of a half-empty BMO Field, the Reds drew 1-1 with Real Salt Lake on Tuesday night, ending their chance of qualifying for the second round of the CONCACAF Champions League.

Javier Morales broke the hearts of the sparse Toronto crowd in the 67th minute when he lifted the ball over the wall, and watched it bounce off the head of Julian de Guzman before ricocheting into the top-left corner of the net.

The goal equalized a 25th minute go-ahead strike by TFC mid fielder Jacob Peterson.

With the draw, Real Salt Lake [3-1-1] advance to the second round of the Champions League, along with Cruz Azul, who won 2-0 against Arabe Unido on Tuesday night.

For Toronto, the draw comes three days after a devastating 3-2 home loss against the San Jose Earthquakes, which effectively ended TFC’s chance of qualifying for the MLS playoffs.

The Reds [1-2-2], winless in their last six home games, close out Champions League play on Oct.18  against Arabe Unido.

The Reds were the first to shake loose in the 20th minute with a quick strike goal by Peterson.

Jim Conway caught a Salt Lake cross at the top of his 18-yard box and threw the ball down the right side to a streaking Peterson. He cut back to the middle of the pitch and watched his left foot shot bend around the outstretched arm of Nick Rimando, and into the back of the net.

The Reds allowed time and space to Real Salt Lake, but were never in a danger as the back line defended the middle stoutly.

When Salt Lake tried the get the ball into the box via the cross, Toronto was equally solid in the air.

The best chance for the visitors came in the 42nd minute when Kyle Beckerman drove a free kick from 25-yards out. The ball swerved and then skipped on the wet turf but Conway made the stop and pounced on the rebound.

Chad Barrett replaced Maicon Santos in the 21st minute when the Brazilian collided with Rimando on a TFC corner kick.  He left the field with a huge bump on his right forehead.

Toronto almost doubled the lead in the 57th minute but Dwayne De Rosario delayed his shot at the open net.

Peterson took a pass from de Guzman and sprinted down the right side before crossing the ball into the six-yard box. Rimando came off his line and collided with Jamison Olave, leaving the ball at the foot of De Rosario. He delayed slightly and Chris Wingert lunged in and blocked the ball out of bounds.

De Rosario would rue that missed opportunity 10 minutes later when Morales tied the game off a free kick from 20-yards out.

Conway kept the faint Reds pulse alive when he stopped Robbie Findlay with a left leg save on a partial breakaway with two minutes left.

The Reds pushed forward but couldn’t muster a single shot on net.