Winding Champions League road comes down to 90 minutes for Toronto FC

Vanney Chivas CCL

Only 90 minutes remain.

Chivas, and the ticking of the clock, stand in the way of Toronto FC achieving yet another feat that no MLS club has ever done before: a Concacaf Champions League title.

At BMO Field last Tuesday, the visitors scored early and late to return back to Guadalajara with a 2-1 advantage, but TFC will be looking to overturn that deficit in the second leg on Wednesday night.

“Now we know what to expect,” said Jonathan Osorio of Chivas' unorthodox style. “This game will be a little bit different on both sides: they know how we play and we know how they play. It's going to be interesting.”

After a furious two months of action that saw Toronto move past the Colorado Rapids, Tigres UANL, and Club America, it all boils to do the clarity of a single match.

Of course, should Chivas find the back of the net, the permutations complicate – a 2-1 TFC win would send the final to a shootout – but the message is simple: Win, and do it by two goals. 

“We're coming here knowing we have to win,” said Alex Bono. “That's the mentality we would have had regardless of the first leg result. We're going to come here, put in a performance and get a win.”

This has been a quest that deserves a proper ending.

“We put a lot of effort, a lot of time, a lot of commitment into this tournament,” added Bono. “We want to come out on top.”

Having been in Mexico since Friday, the side is eager to see what the future holds.

“We're very confident,” stressed Osorio, putting the first leg firmly in the past. “We know that if we get the same chances we can bury them. We know we'll get our chances. We're very optimistic. We're ready for this challenge, ready to make Wednesday a very special night.”

The path has been long and winding; the snow in Colorado, the cauldrons of El Volcán and Azteca, the tightrope of yellow cards.

“To play in this tournament, on big nights against the biggest and best Mexican teams is something we've really enjoyed,” said TFC captain Michael Bradley. “We've relished every step along the way. We're going to step [out] one more time [Wednesday] night and leave everything we have on the field to win this competition.”

This is a club, that over the last two seasons in particular, has seen it all... has won it all.

Greg Vanney recalled a time when all looked lost: “Back in the 2016 playoffs, we went to Montreal, we were down 3-0 within 20 minutes.”

Toronto pulled back two at the Olympic Stadium and came home to finish the job.

“It was an incredible two-leg affair, which we won in the end,” continued Vanney. “We had to attack in the second leg and we did. The game was wide open, we took advantage of our opportunities.”

“We know what it is about,” added Vanney. “This is a group that has been together. We've been in big games, had big experiences together. We know what the outcome has to be: we know we have to score at least two goals. I don't need to convince the guys. We will set up to attack and play to win the game.”

There is one more job to be done.

“We have a group that draws on all the big experiences we've had together the past few years,” said Bradley. “We've played finals, we've played two-legged series; we've been ahead, we've been behind. We've had to play on the edge, we've had to defend leads. We have big experience in moments like this. We're going to step on the field tomorrow night and go for it.”

“Chivas is ahead; it's half-time,” continued the captain. “We know what we have to do to be the ones lifting the trophy at the end of 90 minutes. We're going to use all our experience, all our passion and commitment and pride, both in ourselves and our club and our city, step on the field with the idea that we're going to turn it into a special night.”