It was a sublime night for visiting teams in Concacaf Champions’ League.
Both last evening’s ties look done and dusted at the halfway stage.
Philadelphia weathered a first-half Atlanta storm and had Andre Blake in goal to thank for keeping the scores level amidst a furious and frenetic onslaught from The Five Stripes.
Jim Curtin’s side however retained their composure and playing the more controlled football, picked off their hosts in the second-half.
Before this evening Atlanta had never conceded a home goal in CCL play. Tonight they leaked three, with Kacper Przybylko proving too hot to handle claiming a brace and an assist. His second was the sign of a confident striker on top of his game as he buried the ball past Guzan into the corner, and the third goal a model of unselfishness, slipping to Fontana whose simple task was to tap into the unguarded net.
Final score 0-3. There’s no way back for Atlanta with the second-leg to come in Philadelphia next midweek.
It’s a similar story for Toronto FC who were all at sea in Tampa. Mexicans Cruz Azul didn’t even have to be at their best with the Reds a pale shadow of their former selves. Jozy Altidore, declared fit to play before the game, may point to rustiness after his third minute giveaway led to a fantastic Bryan Angulo finish, the heralding of an uneasy evening for Alex Bono in goal.
That man for the Champions League, Jonathan Osorio levelled matters on 20 mins, but within 14 more, Angulo had restored the lead for Cruz Azul, Mexico’s current league leaders.
When Pablo Aguilar headed the third stealing a march on Bradley, with over half an hour left, it looked ominous for TFC. Indeed things probably should have become worse only for the denial of a stonewall penalty after a clear foul by Zavaleta on Rodriguez - a strange non-decision considering VAR was in use.
At least for Toronto, there was no further scoring, the LigaMX side running out winners by 3-1.
The Reds’ starting eleven should have been boosted by the return of Osorio, Altidore and Morrow, but you start to wonder on the strength of this performance if too many of the side have aged over the proverbial hill.
The backbone from front to back; Gonzalez, Bradley and Altidore each had a poor night and it would take a comeback of enormous proportions for TFC to pull this one out of the fire with a second-leg coming up at the Azteca. Damage limitation may be uppermost in their minds.
Post-match Chris Armas, having a tough start to his new coaching role at the club, and Justin Morrow found it trying to provide anything verbally reassuring to the assembled media. To their credit they didn’t offer excuses either.
But they must hope new DP, Yeferson Soltedo is ready to hit the ground running and the return of Alejandro Pozuelo is imminent. Otherwise 2021 could be a longer season than even a pandemic can influence.
Check out the latest, The Ball Is Round Podcast (Episode 26). Recorded Wednesday evening (21 April), the TBIR team discusses the Nashville SC v CFM clash (with special guest Wes Boling of Nashville SC Radio and Club & County podcast), looks back on the #TORONTO WIN!!!! ... and addresses The Super League Fiasco - Greed, Greed, Greed...
They talk the Montreal football issues of the week and cover all the usual favourite features... including, Eve’s Time Machine Social Media & CHOICES... Don’t miss it!
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