2010 CONCACAF Champions League, Group Stage, Match Day 1
Toronto FC (7-7-5, 3rd place East, MLS) vs. Club Deportivo Cruz Azul (3-1-0, 1st place Group 3, Mexico First Division), at BMO Field in Toronto.
The two clubs have never faced each other.
It’s the rookie taking on the veteran in the first match of the group stage. This game marks Toronto FC’s first foray into group-stage play and it won’t be an easy start, as they battle two-time Champions League finalists and group favorites Cruz Azul.
The Mexico City-based club easily dispatched San Francisco FC of Panama 9-2 on aggregate in the preliminary-round series and are eyeing their first CCL title after finishing as runners-up to Mexican rivals Atlante and Pachuca in the last two editions.
Toronto, who reached this stage after beating CD Motagua 3-2 on aggregate, will look to capitalize on homefield advantage to steal a win, especially with their next three group-stage matches away.
The Reds are coming off a 1-0 loss away to the New York Red Bulls in a key conference tilt and precariously hold onto the league’s eighth and final playoff spot. Despite the loss, Preki’s side didn’t play that bad, but injuries are beginning to pile up as the team approaches a busy period with four games in just 11 days. The team hasn’t played since the loss and could have midfielder Martin Saric and defender Ty Harden available for selection.
However, strikers Chad Barrett (strained hamstring) and Maicon Santos (knee) are out, further hampering an offense that has had trouble generating chances and finishing over the last few games. O’Brian White, Mista and Fuad Ibrahim will likely see significant playing time in this game and in those to follow.
“We are pretty thin, but it is what it is there’s no time for talking
about things we can’t control," said TFC head coach Preki. "The only thing that we can
control now is the group that we have and the game in front of
us [Tuesday] night. We’re playing a tough opponent. It’s the
opening game and I’d like to think the toughest opponent as well.”
La Máquina are off to a fast start in the 2010 Apertura with three wins and a loss to lead the Group 3 standings in the Mexican Primera División. On Saturday, they exacted some revenge for their loss to Pachuca in the previous Champions League final, downing them 4-1 at Estadio Azul. In that win, 22-year-old youngster Javier Orozco scored twice and now has four goals in four games on just nine shots.
Orozco and Argentine striker Emanuel Villa, with two goals, have created a formidable one-two punch carrying the scoring load for Enrique Meza’s side, which is fourth behind Chivas, Toluca and América for most Mexican First Division titles (eight).
Heroes & Villains
Dwayne De Rosario vs. Javier Orozco: With strikers Barrett and Maicon Santos both out with injuries, De Rosario will be the offense’s go-to guy for Toronto. He will likely gravitate between his attacking midfielder position and the striker position, but must receive good service from his fellow midfielders if Toronto are to have a good shot at winning.
Speedy striker Orozco will be a handful for the Reds defense, so it will be up to Nana Attakora, Adrian Cann, Dan Gargan and Nick Garcia to be well organized at the back. The winner of the statistical matchup between the two will likely send his team through with a victory.
Stat that makes you go “Hmm..."
Toronto are undefeated at BMO Field in 2010 in MLS, Nutrilite Canadian Championship and CONCACAF Champions league play with a record of 9-0-4 overall.