Toronto FC is a win away from becoming the second consecutive MLS team to reach the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
That win, however, needs to come in a house of horrors for visiting teams against a club that is hitting on all cylinders during its rise to the top of the Mexican Clausura standings.
The odds are stacked against TFC as they prepare for tonight's CCL semifinal second leg against Santos Laguna in Torreon, Mexico (8 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel), where they will try to become the first non-Mexican club to eliminate a Mexican team in the knockout rounds of the tournament.
Miguel Aceval's free kick in last week's first leg cancelled out Herculez Gomez' opening goal (Gomez' seventh straight match with a goal) to level the aggregate at 1-1, but with Santos having the away-goal edge, TFC must come out attacking and cannot afford to sit back. TFC will be without two of their Designated Players, though, as Torsten Frings remains sidelined with a hamstring injury and Danny Koevermans is suspended for yellow card accumulation.
That leaves the onus on players like Ryan Johnson, Nick Soolsma, Joao Plata and rookie Luis Silva to come up with enough firepower to offset Gomez & Co., who posted six goals on the Seattle Sounders in their quarterfinal leg south of the border. With fullback Osmar Mares and forward Darwin Quintero suspended for Santos Laguna, hope remains for TFC, a club that has yet to earn a point and has managed just one goal in three MLS matches.
If they can pull off the unthinkable, it will be just another defiant step in the CCL journey for TFC. A club that wasn't supposed to get out of the group stage. A club that had no shot against the Los Angeles Galaxy in the quarterfinals. A club that was poised to get blown out at home in the first leg of this semifinal series.
For more about the crucial match for the Reds, here is Fox Soccer's preview of the game, along with a video of Aron Winter talking about his approach for the second leg and Johnson breaking down Santos Laguna and what TFC need to do to be successful.
What's your take on tonight's second leg? Do you think TFC have any shot of getting a result in Mexico?
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