MLS- Toronto FC

CCL: Gomez, Santos Laguna visit Seattle; TFC aims to make statement against LA

SEA_Primary_COL  TOR_Primary_COL LA_Primary_COL

When American forward Herculez Gomez signed with Santos Laguna in December, the odds of him going up against MLS competition were pretty strong considering the club drew the Seattle Sounders in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

An injury to a starting striker combined with his latest run of form means that another special night for Gomez may be in the cards at CenturyLink Field when his side and the Sounders do battle in the first leg of their CCL quarterfinal tie.

In the night's other quarterfinal, a pair of MLS teams do battle against each other when Toronto FC hosts the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first leg of their series. The match will be played under the dome at Rogers Centre in front of more than 40,000 fans and is being billed as the most important match in TFC's brief history.

Here's a closer look at Wednesday night's CCL matches:


TV: 10 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel/Telefutura

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Seattle finished second in Group D, going 3-2-1 and falling to Monterrey in the final group game to settle for runner-up; Santos Laguna topped Group B, going 4-1-1, including two victories over MLS' Colorado Rapids.

THE MATCHUP: With starting forward Darwin Quintero out injured, Gomez has stepped up with goals in consecutive games for Santos Laguna and is on a trademark hot streak as he prepares to take on his one-time coach when he played in MLS, Sigi Schmid.

Santos Laguna is about way more than just Gomez, too. Between Mexican international striker Oribe Peralta, Ecuadorian attacker Christian Suarez, former Barcelona midfielder Marc Crosas, Panamanian centerback Felipe Baloy and veteran Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez, there's talent from front to back for Santos Laguna, which is currently three points off the pace through nine games in the Mexican Clausura.

Seattle, debuting its new third kit, will look to emerge from the preseason in top form to take the advantage, or at the very least give itself a chance, heading into the return leg in Mexico. While Gomez is a feature attraction in this match, it could also mark emergence of another one-time U.S. national team forward. Eddie Johnson, who returned to MLS after a disappointing multi-year voyage overseas, could make his debut for the Rave Green, who commence another season with high expectations. Another debut to keep an eye on is that of Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who gets his first taste of meaningful action as the successor to Sounders legend Kasey Keller.


TV: 8 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel/Telefutura

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Los Angeles won Group A, going 4-2-0 and winning a tiebreaker with Morelia and Alajuelense to finish in first; Toronto finished second in Group C, going 3-2-1 and defeating FC Dallas 3-0 in the final group game to seal a place in the knockout round.

THE MATCHUP: In many ways, it's CCL crown or bust for the Galaxy, who have raised the bar for themselves even higher after an historic 2011 season that ended with the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup making their way to the Home Depot Center. By bringing back David Beckham and Juninho, re-acquiring Edson Buddle and adding them to a side that already boasted the likes of Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Sean Franklin, Los Angeles puts forth the most star-studded side that MLS has had in the CCL. On paper, the Galaxy are poised to become the second MLS team in a row to reach the tournament final after Real Salt Lake came so close to winning it all last year. 

Standing in the Galaxy's way is Toronto FC, a team bent on earning respect and one that will play in front of a raucous home crowd. After combining an uneven MLS season with a late surge in the CCL group stage, Toronto is an intriguing, and perhaps least-assuming, entrant in the quarterfinals.

TFC's front line of Danny Koevermans, Joao Plata and Ryan Johnson will look to exploit the one area of doubt that Los Angeles has — its central defense. With Omar Gonzalez out and Andrew Boyens likely to step into his role, it will take a team effort to shut down the lumbering and physical Koevermans and keep the hosts off the board.

TFC will be a bit shorthanded, as Designated Player and midfielder Julian de Guzman is suspended for the match due to yellow card accumulation in the group stage. New midfield signing Marcelo Sarvas is unavailable for the Galaxy, as he is cup-tied to Alajuelense after playing for the Costa Rican side in the group stage.


Who do you see winning tonight's CCL matches? Excited to see Gomez go up against MLS competition?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Dimidri

    “Seattle, debuting a new third kit…”

    The sounders somehow messed up the best kits in the league(what they had when they firs entered the league) by adding that weird sports bra stuff that looks more like electrical tape than anything else. The initial blue away kits with green shorts were better than their new away kit also. Boo. Change does not alway=better.


  • B

    I love their 2011 Shale (grey) best of any jersey they’ve worn, too bad they completely ruined it with the straps. They hardly ever wear it anyways.


  • Marc

    Settle has to take it to Santos early and get the crowd into the game. Santos is in midseason form and will have no problem getting going.


  • Hopper

    How do you know they’ll have no problem getting going?

    A whole bunch of us at the CLink will be doing everything we can to give them a problem getting going.


  • Cyprus Hill

    The pressure is on LA….I expect TFC to be loose and creative in this one


  • Jarvis

    fitness and mentality wise, SL is ready to go. Sounders have not been in a meaningful game yet. Hopefully the crowd will pump them up from the start.


  • Edwin in LA

    Considering this an US Based Soccer blog, it only makes sense that pro US teams comments would only be welcomed. You might of dropped your common sense somewhere…

    Could it had been while you were running for your life at TSM Stadium?


  • Edwin in LA

    You really need an explanation for this?

    The last time they played in a game that was part of the group stage that earned them this quarterfinal bith, was back in October. They haven’t played a meaningful game in almost 4 months, what’s so hard to understand about that????

    I hope they win, but the fact is due to our schedule the FMF teams are 10 games into their season basically just past the halfway point and we are not even into our 1st week yet..


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