Who could blame Toronto FC fans for carrying a little chip on their shoulders about CONCACAF Champions League? Who could blame the Red Patch Boys and other Toronto supporters for turning toward the soccer world and reminding everyone who proved No.1 in last night’s quarterfinal closer?
After all, the presumptive national narrative in the run-up to Wednesday’s second-leg was all about Los Angeles. About how the gleaming Galaxy, majestic conquerors of Major League Soccer, now out to claim greater lands, had prioritized Champions League and its potential riches this year.
Could Bruce Arena’s army, brave David Beckham at the helm and that stellar cast of Galacticos manning battle stations of support, get past the mighty Mexican clubs in their way? Could the Galaxy do what Real Salt Lake came so close to doing last year, become the first MLS club to claim ultimate honors in the regional tournament?
And perhaps a few even allowed themselves to dream about greater days ahead, about storming shore in the FIFA Club World Cup later this year. Just how would the Galaxy stack up against some ultimate Euro heavyweight, some soccer super power like FC Barcelona, should it come to that? Hmmmm.
Never mind that Toronto had, strictly speaking, the very chance to do any and all of the same.
Congratulations to Toronto FC for the biggest win in club history.
Los Angeles Galaxy: you may now begin sweeping up the pieces.
Around only since 2006 (TFC’s first MLS season was 2007), the club has never even found its way into the Major League Soccer’s playoffs. No, the “March 14 massacre” won’t shock the sports world. I’ve written before about the colossal juxtaposition at work here, this regional tournament that the players, coaches and organizations care so much about, but one that enjoys so precious little general market awareness.
But that’s neither here nor there as TFC players and coaches board a plane today at LAX, bound heroically for Ontario and feeling rightly fantastic about Wednesday’s 2-1 win (and 4-3 series triumph on aggregate). Now they face Mexico’s Santos, talented manufacturers of Wednesday’s other Champions League shocker.
Santos is a quality Mexican side, of course, currently atop the Mexican league table. Given the historical strength of Mexican sides against MLS competition, there’s little surprise that Santos advanced. But who predicted a 6-1 shellacking?
I’ll have more later on what these losses for Seattle and Los Angeles mean.
For now, let’s just salute Toronto for the job well done.