Toronto FC’s meeting with Tigres was billed as a clash between two of the region’s best and, when the dust settled in the opening leg, TFC stood victorious. Because of that, the Canadian club has a narrow advantage heading to Mexico for what is one of the most anticipated matches in CONCACAF Champions League history.
A come-from-behind 2-1 victory was vital for Toronto FC as goals from Jozy Altidore and Jonathan Osorio guided the MLS Cup champions to an unprecedented result. It was a solid performance, one headlined by Osorio’s late winner, a spectacular backheel that sent BMO Field into a frenzy.
The Estadio Universitario will be wild as well on Tuesday night as the crowd looks to push on a Tigres team widely seen as one of Mexico’s best hopes for another continental crown.
“We’ve given ourselves an edge with the victory in Toronto, but we’re very much aware of and understand that this is a good team, a good attacking team,” said TFC boss Greg Vanney. “They aren’t going to change their ways because they’re confident in what they’re going to do. Likewise, same with us. We’re not going to come in and change a bunch of things to hope to get a result here. We’re going to play a game most in the vision of the way we want to play.
“When the opening whistle blows, both teams will try and win, and it will take its twists and turns as the game progresses.”
Fortunately for TFC, a Week 2 bye leaves the team fresh heading into Tuesday’s match. Victor Vazquez remains an injury concern due to back spasms but, by and large, TFC remains healthy.
Tuesday’s match is certainly one that will look different than the opener. In that match, TFC piled on the pressure through the second half in a game where both teams struggled to adapt to field conditions. Neither team will have to worry about the cold on Tuesday, giving the potential for a more open and creative game.
TFC will have concerns, though, about going on the road. Tigres hasn’t lost at home in 20 international games, a record that adds another layer to the intrigue of an MLS club pushing to advance past a Liga MX side.
“We’ve never played here before. We have no bearing on their past results,” Vanney said. “We come in and do the things we do well and do what we do to the best of our abilities.
“We’re going to play in the vision of Toronto FC and the best style for us to get a result here.”
Vanney says both teams are under pressure heading into Tuesday’s match. TFC is one of three teams carrying the MLS banner, each of which has an advantage heading into the second leg. For Tigres, its about cementing their status as a dominant Mexican team while also avoiding the prospect of falling to MLS opposition.
Those storylines give Tuesday’s match an extra edge for all involved.
“It would be a big feat for us,” Vanney said. “Just to obviously come down to Mexico and play to a Mexican opponent, the Mexican champion, to come in and get a result, for all MLS teams, it wouldn’t be just us, it’s something we’re all trying to do.
“We all want to be the first team to win a championship here. We know we have a difficult task and a long road, but tomorrow is another match here with Tigres, a very good opponent. For us, we play one game at a time, try to get one result at a time, and (Tuesday) will be no different.”