Falling Players, Gringos & More

Mike Ulmer unveiled another post-Champions League match list after semifinal first leg.

Photo: Santos' Herculez Gomez (left) did some postgame trash talking (Paul Giamou/TorontoFC.ca).

Ten things I did not know before Toronto FC tied Santos Laguna 1-1 at BMO Field, Wednesday night.

1. The entire North stand snuck in blow guns. No other excuse for the hail of falling Santos players.  I haven’t seen this many green-clad men rolling on the ground holding their heads since St. Patrick’s Day.  “You expect that from South American teams,” said TFC manager Aron Winter and who am I to argue but I worry for them. Those poor Mexicans could barely stand for falling.

2. Never trust a translator. In the middle of his post-game press-conference, manager Benjamin Galindo said something that sounded like this: “Blah-Blah-Blah….Gringo….Blah-Blah-Blah.”  The translation “you shouldn’t do bad things and pretend that they are good things. He didn’t like Americans refereeing for Americans.” We now enter into a fascinating question:  did the coach of the visiting team toss out a racial slur. Depends who you ask. Gringo refers to Americans and since the referee, Ricardo Salazar, is an American you could give Galindo the benefit of the doubt. But for sheer entertainment value, tossing the word Gringo into the middle of the Spanish rant is an unparalleled bit of showmanship. Take  the enclosed Far Side cartoon, take out the word Ginger and put in Gringo and you have a fair idea at how many heads snapped up at the press conference.

3. A 1-1 tie is a mixed blessing for the home side. Far from being run off the pitch, TFC had the better of the play against the best team in the Mexican League. TFC directed 14 shots at the goal compared to 10 for Santos according to Opta. Toronto enjoyed 12 corner kicks compared to one for the visitors. The only statistical column dominated by Santos was fouls. They committed 12 and Osmar Mares and Darwin Quintero were issued red cards. Still, the visitors, many of whom were photographed shopping hours before the game got what they came for.  TFC, who must play Columbus on Saturday at BMO, need to outscore the visitors in Torreon or tie by a 2-2 score or greater next Wednesday.

4. Thank goodness for security guards. The game was marred - no, capped is a better word – by an incident that occurred just as the contest ended. That’s when Quintero, according to TFC’s Ashtone Morgan head-butted the Toronto defender.  The visitors swarmed the scene but threw no handbags. Surely the nice men and women rented out to police this situation did not anticipate being drawn into an international incident but when they give you a walky-talky and one of those teeny little flashlights you have to be ready for anything. For good measure, Quintero seemed to collapse after he issued the head butt but I think he’ll be fine.

5. NBA players learned how to trash talk by watching the Primera Division via satellite. One Spanish-speaking reporter quoted Herculez Gomez, the brilliant Santos attacker and his team’s only goalscorer as saying “If we score 6-1 against the best team in the MLS (in the last Champions League game on Mexican soil) , can you imagine what we can do to Toronto. “  Jinkies.

6. Gringo according to Wikipedia: “While in Spanish it simply identifies a foreigner, without any negative connotation in English the word is often considered offensive or disparaging.” Just sayin’.

7. I felt marginalized but that may have just been me.

8. The rematch should be a dandy and TFC players were saying the usual things about sticking together when things got tough. Well, as tough as it gets when your opponents keep falling down on purpose.

9. “Nothing has been decided, we still have 90 to 95 minutes left,” said the Santos coach. Based on the earlier translation this could be interpreted as meaning “the butt-kicking we administered to your sickly representatives from Seattle will be nothing compared to the humiliation that awaits you.”  

10. I can’t wait until Wednesday. Faking, diving, head-butting, two nice goals, trash-talk, great bursts of ball movement, ill-feeling and overmatched security guards. No wonder they call this the beautiful game.

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