O'Brian White and the Reds take on New York in MLS on Saturday.

A Jolt Of Confidence

TORONTO – A big confidence boost was just what Toronto FC needed, and they got it in spades Tuesday night.

Coming off a demoralizing 1-0 loss on the road last week to New York, the Reds were forced to open the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League against Mexican giants Cruz Azul. And they rose to the challenge like professionals with a comprehensive 2-1 victory over los Cementeros, arguably one of the biggest-ever victories for TFC at BMO Field.

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“We were just really well prepared and ready to go tonight against a very formidable opponent, one of the toughest teams in CONCACAF,” Toronto coach Preki said after the match. “We really prepared for this match, the players responded and I feel we really deserved the win tonight.”

The Reds wasted no time against Cruz Azul. Martin Saric opened the scoring just three minutes in, marking the quickest goal in any Toronto FC match in their four-year history. The Argentine midfielder headed the ball into the open net after a well-placed header by striker Mista was deflected in his path.

Saric had just returned from a knee injury and marked the occasion with a morale boost for a Toronto side who had just come off a frustrating 1-0 loss at Red Bull Arena last Wednesday.

Mista also looked dangerous throughout the match, and his memorable left-footed blast in the 44th minute gave Toronto a 2-0 halftime lead.

“The timing on his goal was just excellent,” Preki said of the Spanish striker's goal. “We were concerned, we knew they were a good team that was capable of producing, but Mista’s goal just changed the course of the game.”

The result gives the Reds a huge shot of confidence at just the right time. The pressure in their MLS card game gets turned up a notch on Saturday when they again face the second-place Red Bulls and their dangerous three-pronged attack of Thierry Henry, Rafa Márquez and Juan Pablo Angel.

“We are raring to go heading into our next game,” said Toronto defender Adrian Cann, who played solid 90 minutes Tuesday. “Now playing New York after a game like this, we are really looking forward to that game.”

New York lead Toronto by five points in the standings and, although TFC have a game in hand, they definitely need the points as the MLS playoff race tightens ahead of the stretch run. But perhaps Tuesday night's performance is the launchpad they need – as long as they don't let it go to their heads, according to Nana Attakora.

“We just can’t go into the game too high on ourselves," said the defender. "We have a really tough game coming up on Saturday."