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Plata leads Toronto FC past FC Dallas, earning place in CCL quarterfinals

Toronto FC Logo FC Dallas Logo

With the MLS playoffs a dream that disappeared long ago, Toronto FC had one thing left to play for in 2011. They had a place in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals to try and win.

Standing in their way was FC Dallas, one of the better teams in MLS, a team that needed just a draw on Tuesday night at their home ground to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.

Instead of a win or a draw, FC Dallas was abused by TFC midfielder Joao Plata, who scored two goals and set up a third to lead Toronto to a historic 3-0 victory at Pizza Hut Park.

The win capped an incredible comeback for Toronto FC, which looked to be done in group play after a 4-0 thrashing by UNAM Pumas on Sept. 14 looked to take the life out of TFC's quarterfinal hopes. Toronto responded to that loss with a 2-0-1 run in its final three group matches, capped by Tuesday's convincing victory. 

Toronto withstood some early pressure from Dallas on Tuesday, but put the pressure on Dallas in the 29th minute when Plata set up a Danny Koevermans goal. The Dutch striker swung and missed on his initial shot, but recovered in time to beat Kevin Hartman from close range.

FC Dallas' normally potent attack never did get going, and the lack of a dangerous striker to test Toronto FC's central defense became a glaring weakness as Brek Shea and Marvin Chavez struggled to create.

Plata sealed the victory with a pair of second half goals, finishing off a beautiful sequence in the 69th minute before out-racing the Dallas defense in the 81st minute for his second goal and the official start of Toronto's victory celebration.

The victory marked Toronto FC's first time qualifying for the Champions League quarterfinals, and now TFC could wind up winning Group C if UNAM Pumas fails to defeat Tauro FC when the team's meet in Mexico on Wednesday night. TFC joined the Los Angeles Galaxy as the second MLS team to qualify for the quarterfinals.

The defeat eliminated FC Dallas from the Champions League, a disappointing end after the club started so brightly in group play by becoming the first MLS team to win an official match in Mexico. The team's 2-0 start couldn't offset an eventual eight-match winless slump in all competitions.

Here are the match highlights:


What did you think of Toronto FC's performance? See TFC making a deep run? Still stunned FC Dallas crashed out of the competition?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Our team holds the league up, and makes sure cities like yours still have a team. Pretty sure Pizza Hut ain’t payin the bills!

  2. pretty sure last year and the year before the only teams that turned a profit were tfc, sounders, and galaxy (1 of the 2 years)

    not sure where you get ur info from

  3. You Toronto fans deserve a winning year. From a Galaxy fan, I hope next year pans out with Frings, Koevermans, Plata and whoever else decides to step up. I was cheering for TFC last night for the first time ever.

  4. Sure, but “it” is something completely different than champion of MLS. “It” is a tournament that’s unreasonably elevated above the Supporter’s Shield. The SS is an MLS construct. Outside North America the SS winner is the League Champion.

  5. Isn’t Pizza Hut Park relatively new? Seems like the organization shot themselves in the foot by building a stadium outside a major metropolitan area. That should be a requisite for MLS stadia moving forward.

  6. Dallas has a terrible fan base. It’s embarrassing every time the camera shows thousands of empty seats, CCL or MLS play notwithstanding.

  7. As an FCD fan I can still be happy about another MLS team making it to the next round. I was at the game last night and we just looked like hell. Even on Saturday we didn’t look spectacular, we just played a bad team.

    Fact is we are not the same team from a few months ago. There is way more bickering among the players on the field than I have seen this year or even last year.

    I am still hopeful for the playoffs but I think I am wishing upon a star for anything more than making it to the second round.

  8. LOVE IT
    especially because so many nay sayers said winter and his hairbrained ideas would never work. Cant wait to get some new proper defenders and fill in some slots. Play offs should not be an issue next year.

  9. Champions League trumps MLS league titles any day? Playoffs in NA are pointless. How do you explain Colorado; RSL & the Red Bulls making the finals in the last 3 years. None of the 3 teams were the Supporter’s Shield winners but all made the final?

    An opportunity to play Barcelona, ManU, AC Milan; Boca Juniors etc. in Japan seems like an obvious primary objective. RSL almost did if not for Suazo.

    TFC rules.

  10. Aron Winter and BoB De Klerk are getting the boys to buy into the “Total Football” 4-3-3 *clap, clap, clap*

    Kocic, had excellent command of the box.

    Deguzman and Frings bossed the midfield from the back

    Plata was causing fits for the Dallas backline all night!

    All in All, Toronto FC played one of their best matches ever! Hats off

  11. TFC really turned the corner in the summer when they made all the roster changes. Since then they’ve averaged 1.5 points per game in MLS which averaged over a season would make them near the top of the east.


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