TFC aims for Champions League statement

Eric Avila, photo courtesy of Toronto FC (Avila140)

Toronto FC could be one step closer to a quarter-final berth in the CONCACAF Champions League with a win over Pumas UNAM on Tuesday night.

However, the last time a win over the Mexico City squad would’ve propelled the Reds to top spot in Group C it turned out to be a 4-0 disaster.

Since that loss, when everything looked bleak for the habitants of BMO Field, a 2-1 victory over Tauro FC threw Toronto right back into the battle for one of the advancing positions.

A win would put the Reds into first place with nine points, two more than Pumas, and should FC Dallas lose to Tauro on Wednesday night, they would remain at the top. Should Toronto lose and Dallas win, it would result in elimination.

Toronto is slightly wounded after a disappointing 3-0 loss to Chivas USA of the MLS on Saturday. Head coach Aron Winter told MLSsoccer.com his team wasn’t ready and giving up an early lead was their own fault.

“We were a little bit flat,” he said. “We were not sharp enough and it makes it 1-0. And after that it was very difficult to come back in the game.”

Midfielder Eric Avila said the Reds made way too many mistakes that they will have to fix in order to produce any kind of positive result against a tough opponent in Pumas.

“The main thing is that we understand our mistakes,” Avila said. “If we didn’t understand, it would be more of a problem. It was a bad performance on our part and we understand what went wrong and we’ve just got to fix it.”

But rumours swirling around the game on Tuesday night might have Toronto in for an inexperienced surprise of its own.

After a 2-1 victory over fellow Mexican team UAG Tecos, Pumas head coach Guillermo Vazquez was quoted on Toronto FC’s website saying the team was headed “on a trip to Canada and seek to rest some players, and those on the bench to play.”

The idea behind the rest is an upcoming league rivalry match with Club America.

Toronto FC will surely put all the big guns of the roster on the field with so much on the line and it could end up going very well if Pumas takes to a much younger team on the pitch.

It was this type of youth movement throughout the first two games of the tournament that hurt Pumas, grabbing only one point in those two matches.

Two games later with the regular squad and Pumas had two commanding wins and a share of the Group C lead.

They have now increased their win-streak total in all competition to four games, so regardless of who is on the field, Toronto could be in for a bumpy ride.