COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (February 20, 2018) – In the coldest game in the history of MLS teams, Toronto FC were the victors in Leg One of their
Round of 16 CONCACAF Champions League series against Colorado Rapids. They were led by a second half Jonathan Osorio header and volley from Sebastian Giovinco.
Colorado Starting XI: Tim Howard(C)/Marlon Hairston, Kortne Ford, Tommy Smith, Deklan Wynne, Edgar Castillo/Enzo Martinez, Jack Price, Nana Boateng/Jack McBean, Dominique Badji
Toronto Starting XI: Alexander Bono/Justin Morrow, Nicholas Hagglund, Drew Moor, Auro Junior/Michael Bradley(C), Marco Delgado, Victor Vazquez, Jonathan Osorio/Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore
Frozen Fun: Osorio Header, Giovinco Lead TFC to 0-2 win at Colorado
The first half started slow with both teams feeling each other out. The home side were the aggressors in the first half, with the midfield spraying service out wide and to the strikers. Colorado was missing the final pass and were unable to score. On the other side. Jozy Altidore was marked well. Vazquez was able to get the ball and distribute, but nothing came of the changes.
The match opened up in the second half. Toronto stayed organized but attacked in bursts with numbers. The shift paid off, as Jonathan Osorio opened the scoring the in 55th minute on a cross from the touchline by Giovinco. On a similar play in the 73rd minute, Auro got open and sent a cross into the middle of the box. No one picked up Giovinco and he side volleyed it to make it 0-2. Colorado pushed to try and come back down two road goals, but the match ended 0-2.
55′ Goal – Toronto – Jonathan Osorio, assisted by Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore
73′ Goal – Toronto – Sebastian Giovinco, assisted by Auro and Marco Delgado
Simple Balls Over the Top:
The match started with teams keeping it simple. Both sides had midfielders committed to defending and moving the ball forward. Jack Price and Michael Bradley were excellent in disrupting the opponent, winning the ball, and moving it out wide.
From there, the midfielders tried to dink balls over the back line to find their strikers. Dominique Badji got several good chances, including a 27th minute opportunity that Bono made a great save on. Giovinco had several good sequences with Vazquez and Morrow, but had trouble mustering any dangerous chances against Howard.
Colorado midfielder Jack Price noted what went well and what didn’t for his side:
“We did what the gaffer wanted in the first half. We just got off the plan in the second half. We just lost the plan. Some were pressing, some weren’t. We’ll look back on it and correct it. One [goal] came from our corner, so we need to lock that in. You’ve got to man mark better than we did. We’ll learn and [improve] in training.”
Ultimately, it were two balls out wide that set up the final ball on both goals for the Reds. With the weather and both teams clogging the middle, the wide play and forward movement up top was the deciding factor. Toronto capitalized especially on the Osorio header; Colorado didn’t.
CONCACAF Chippiness in Second Half:
The match got a big heated in the second half. There were some chippy fouls in the first half, but nothing escalated. In the 67th minute, Tommy Smith made a late challenge of Vazquez. The Spaniard went down with a howl, clutching his right knee. Players gathered, with Castillo and Bradley exchanging pleasantries.
Minutes later, Castillo was carded for a foul on Auro and things boiled over with several players from both sides gathering. After that, players had words for each other and the official with every 50/50 call.
Rapids supporters will feel hard done by, as they had two PK shouts in the game, but on center back Nick Hagglund. In the first half, there were shouts for hand ball in the box. Then late in the match, McBean went down on a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge in the box. Nothing was called. Look for gamesmanship and referee decisions on close calls to be a factor in the second leg.
Toronto Bunker and Counter With Numbers Pays Off:
Vanney said earlier this week that the team had a style of play that was going to adjust as the game went on. Toronto was a bit hesitant and dull in the first half. As the game went on, they found a rhythm defending with all eleven then transitioning to the attack with five or six.
“We were too spread out. We needed to close up the middle a little bit more. Second half, we reorganized that. We were in better positions to move the ball quickly. From a possession stand point, the continuity was nice. We did a nice job moving the ball but there needs to be a little bit more on the final action,” Vanney said post game.
This method helped create more chances in the second half, including the Osorio header and Giovinco volley. Two or three players were involved in the build up, the ball was sent to player out wide, then a cross was sent into the box with multiple players there. When the build up wasn’t there, they backed off and defended well.
Last Word: This was an Exercise for Hudson
Rapids Head Coach Anthony Hudson had almost an apologetic tone to match post-game. The first half had a lot of good things, but they lost the plot in the second half. He wanted the eleven on the field for the full 90 minutes to help them struggle and get fully fit for the MLS season. The lack of subs had them run out of gas when they needed a goal, being down 0-2 on aggregate.
“I thought we defensively we were organized in the first half. With the ball I thought we were the stronger team. We probably created the best chance of the game in the first half. We had half chances. There were loads of positives in the first half. We started getting stretched in the second half, loose with our passing.
It’s a tournament that we respect, but the priority is we’re ready for the start of the season. We’ve got to keep pushing ahead with preseason.”
Hudson did not make any subs in the game out of treating the match as an exercise. We’ll see if he changed things up next week to try and make a game of the second leg.