While Toronto FC’s MLS season has been disappointing, the team still remains in play to advance in the CONCACAF Champion’s League.
The Reds travel to Mexico City to take on Pumas UNAM in Group C action on Wednesday evening (8 p.m. ET) in a match that could hold significant clout in deciding the division.
A win, combined with a FC Dallas loss to Panama’s Tauro FC, and Toronto will be tied atop the standings of Group C, which would boost confidence for a club sitting dead last in the MLS Eastern Conference.
In fact, after losing 21 straights matches to Mexican sides, the MLS is 2-for-2 against Mexican teams this season, with the LA Galaxy trying to make it 3-for-3 against Morelia Tuesday night.
With a loss and a draw, Pumas hasn’t played up to its potential. Much of the blame has been shouldered on the team’s manager, Guillermo Vasquez, who has been fielding teenagers and rookies in place of veterans.
If Pumas does indeed play its first team regulars in a last-ditch effort to pick up some points, TFC may find itself against a much more difficult side than the one that earned a scoreless draw with Tauro FC, despite having a man advantage for most of the game.
Clearly, Pumas is a hungry team, a challenge TFC will find difficult. But the Reds are confident they are up to the test.
With a 4-2 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday night in Ohio, Toronto ended its winless streak in the Buckeye State, taking home Trillium Cup on aggregate score of 5-3.
“You see a lot more football being played with confidence,” designated player Julian de Guzman told the club’s official website.
It was only the Reds’ second win on the road in combined CONCACAF and MLS play, a fact that was not lost on the coaching staff.
“It’s nice for the fans,” TFC manager Aron Winter told The Associated Press, “but it’s also nice for the team because it’s our first away victory [in MLS play].”
The only other road victory Toronto has this season came when they defeated Tauro FC 2-1 last month in Panama City, so the deck is stacked against the club as its heads into the Mexican capital Wednesday night.
Still, the Reds are optimistic they will manage to pull out a road victory for the second consecutive week, even if the task seems daunting.
“We’re trying to win CONCACAF,” Reds forward Ryan Johnson told theOye Times. “The league is tough, but at the end of the day we’re still working hard fighting for our jobs and that’s number one for us and we always want to give the best effort for the fans. The fans are number one for us.”