Toronto FC Advance to CCL Final Despite Early Jozy Altidore Substitution

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MEXICO CITY – Toronto FC are through to the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League Final. On Tuesday night at the historic Azteca, they got a draw against Liga MX side Club America 1-1, advancing to the final a 4-2 aggregate score, after a 3-1 win last week at home.

Toronto FC Advance to CCL Final Despite Early Jozy Altidore Substitution

Just minutes into the game, the plan for the Reds got completely uprooted. Star striker Jozy Altidore went down with an apparent injury and there were immediate signals from TFC players for a sub. Altidore was eventually subbed out in the 7th minute for Tosaint Ricketts.

That didn’t phase the visitors, as they got on the board in the 12th minute. After some good build-up play, Sebastian Giovinco made a great dinking pass over the top to an onside Ricketts in stride. The striker brought down the ball and squared it to a running Jonathan Osorio who scored into an open net.

Club America responded with waves of pressure but had trouble creating any dangerous chances. The best chance came in the 28th minute when Andrés Ibargüen made a run down the side and sent a low cross into the box. Henry Martín met it with a thumping header, but goalkeeper Alex Bono made the point-blank save. American continued to push with hopeful shots that were off target or blocked.

Down three goals on aggregate, America pushed in the second half to get back into the match. Toronto stood tall, with Eriq Zavaleta and Bono making critical stops.

Club America ultimately ran out of gas, seeming frustrated with the aggregate deficit. A PK in stoppage time gave American a possible lifeline. Matheus Uribe stepped up and scored but there was not enough time afterwards. The match ended 1-1, with Toronto FC winning the series 4-2 on aggregate.

Three Things to Take Note of:

Taking it to them: Toronto FC came into the Azteca not to defend a lead, but to win outright. They took chances and went forward to create the opening goal. They played to win instead of playing to lose. Once they got into the second half with the lead, Vanney’s men managed the aggregate score perfectly to see themselves through.

CCL FOMO: As anyone who was on Twitter last night saw, the stream was having serious trouble with both this match and the New Your Red Bulls home game. The online feed regularly cut out with issues of a delay and the live event not starting soon. This was one of the biggest games in the history of Toronto FC and many fans were unable or had serious problems watching it. CONCACAF and go90 dropped the ball. That is a massive disappointment for the tournament and the federation.

Bono says no: Alex Bono was money in this game. A relatively young and internationally inexperienced keeper stood tall and flourished in the moment. He showed up in this game and has shown up in every Champions Leauge appearance. He made several saves that kept TFC comfortably in front until stoppage time.

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