Santos Laguna, the highest-scoring team in Mexico was expected to demolish Toronto FC in their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series. If that is going to happen, Santos will have to do the demolishing down in Mexico.
Toronto FC put on an inspiring performance to battle the top team in Mexico to a stalemate, as the sides played to a 1-1 draw in Toronto on Wednesday night.
American striker Herculez Gomez continued his torrid scoring pace, notching his ninth goal in seven matches, but TFC's Miguel Aceval delivered an equalizing free kick to send the teams into the second leg of their semifinal series even.
Despite playing without defensive leader Torsten Frings, TFC was able to limit Santos' chances until Gomez struck first off a pass from Darwin Quintero to open the scoring and mark his seventh straight match with a goal.
Aceval responded just seven minutes later with a well-struck free kick that beat Santos goalkeeper Osvaldo Sanchez. TFC had several other chances to score, but never did find a go-ahead goal.
The end of the match was marred by a pair of Santos Laguna red cards, including one to Quintero at the end of the match. Santos defender Osmar Mares was ejected for a 77th-minute challenge on Richard Eckersley. Quintero was shown red after the final whistle for a clash with TFC defender Ashtone Morgan.
The teams face off in the second leg on April 4 in Torreon, where Santos will be heavily favored. The Mexican club went into its second leg against the Seattle Sounders trailing 2-1 after the first leg in the quarterfinals, only to run out to a 6-1 victory in Torreon.
TFC has enjoyed road success in the Champions League as well, eliminating the LA Galaxy with a win at Home Depot Center in their quarterfinal match-up.
TFC will be without striker Danny Koevermans, who drew a yellow card in the match that will force him to sit out the second leg.
Here are the match highlights:
What did you think of the match? Impressed with TFC? Think the Canadian club has a chance in the return leg in Mexico? Hoping Gomez can parlay his hot streak into another U.S. national team call-up?
Share your thoughts below.