Kia Toronto FC Academy is in Texas for the prestigious Dallas Cup Supergroup. This is a great preseason opportunity for the team to take on bonafide international opponents. Toronto's bracket includes a varied mix with Danish club Aalborg BK, Mexico's Tigres and Brazilian side Fluminense. While not the easiest set of games to kick off a season, this level of competition is exactly what Academy Director, Thomas Rongen yearns for.
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"We may not get optimal results in terms of the win/loss column," Rongen said, "but the game and competition experience these matches will provide our Senior Academy team is invaluable".
Within the first five minutes of the opening match on a windy Sunday morning at University of Texas at Dallas, Reds were tested heavily by quality opposition. The Danish side Aalborg showed their strength on attack and Quillan Roberts had to come up with two great saves for the Academy. Toronto responded a few minutes later where only a great save by the Aalborg keeper on a one-on-one situation against Toronto's Mark Wadid kept the score level.
First half was an evenly matched affair with the difference shown in the referee's pocketbook, where Toronto courted three yellow cards.
Disciplinary issues continued to haunt Toronto into the second half, when a late tackle by Alain Sargeant resulted in a direct red card that put the Reds a man down.
Aalborg converted their advantage 10 minutes later, taking a 1-0 lead from a cross that was just out of the reach of Roberts in the Toronto goal.
A chippy game ensued following the Danes' opening strike, which kept the referee busy. He administered a second yellow card to Toronto's Jevon Gayle (who had received his first in the opening half), bringing the Reds down to nine men. Adding insult to injury, Gayle's foul was inside the box and Aalborg converted the penalty kick notching up the score 2-0. Battling out the final minutes, the seriously depleted TFC squad held on and the game ended by that margin.
Next up in this impressive preseason tournament line-up is the second game at Richland College vs Tigres of Mexico on Monday. On Sunday night, Academy players and staff took part in the Dallas Cup Welcome Ceremony at the famous Cotton Bowl with the hundreds of other teams attending this prestigious tournament.