Three points on Tuesday night are a must if Toronto FC hopes to take their CONCACAF Champions League campaign any further.
TFC are in El Salvador for a crucial group stage match against C.D. Aguila, a squad they defeated easily 5-1 at the beginning of August.
But despite that positive result, head coach Paul Mariner insists that he isn’t taking the Central American opposition lightly.
“They’ll want to put things right because we really did take it to them in the previous game at home,” said Mariner ahead of the clash. “We’re expecting a difficult game but I think we’ll be well equipped to cope.”
Defender Jeremy Hall also acknowledges that Tuesday’s match will be a tough test pointing to the wide range of external factors that MLS teams can come to expect when traveling to Central America.
“It’s going to be a harder game going down into El Salvador with the conditions of the pitch, the referees, the hostile environment,” Hall said. “I hope we can come out with the same intensity we did at home, and get back in the win column.”
Quincy Amarikwa has experience playing in El Salvador. The forward traveled there when he was with the Colorado Rapids last year, and he echoed Hall’s sentiments about what it’s like getting a result down there.
“It’s difficult to play there,” Amarikwa stated. “So it’s kind of a test of character and a test of your ability to travel and be in a new place.”
Amarikwa also stressed the need for goals as Toronto FC not only need to collect points in their final two group stage matches, they need to
“I expect us to just kind of throw everything at them. There’s no scoreline to protect. We’re trying to get as many goals as possible.
“So I think it might play to our advantage because players are going to come in a little more relaxed and looking more to be offensive threats as opposed to not conceding defensively.”
The Reds currently find themselves second in Group A with three points from two matches.
Familiar foe Santos Laguna are atop the group with a maximum nine points from three matches. And Tuesday’s opponents CD Aguila are sitting in the basement with zero points in three matches.
Only the top side from each group advances to the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Toronto FC have only won once in all competitions since July 18, a statistic that speaks volumes about the struggling club.
That win, however, was the 5-1 trashing against C.D. Aguila, so there should be reason to believe that TFC’s CONCACAF Champions League campaign won’t end on Tuesday night.
Should the Reds pull off a victory in San Miguel, then the club’s hopes of reaching the quarterfinals will come down to a difficult test away to Santos Laguna on Oct. 24.
And even if they also get three points in Mexico, only a win by a three-goal margin would guarantee Toronto FC a quarterfinal berth.
It might seem like an insurmountable task for a club that has barely been in the win column all summer.
But in order to have any hope of accomplishing the seemingly impossible, three points are a must against C.D. Aguila on Tuesday night.