TORONTO - Underhanded and overmatched, Toronto FC kept alive their hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Pumas UNAM at BMO Field on Tuesday night.
Peri Marosevic gave Toronto the lead late in the 35th minute before Pumas defender Marco Palacios headed home a goal early in the second half to give the visiting Mexican side a share of the points.
The draw pushed Toronto level on points with FC Dallas for second place in Group C. Pumas moves up into first place in the group with eight points, one more than TFC and Dallas.
Toronto and Pumas, who thumped the Reds 4-0 in Mexico City, each have one more match in group play, while Dallas have two to play, including Wednesday's match away to last-place side Tauro in Panama.
Toronto were undermanned for the match, missing Torsten Frings, Terry Dunfield and Mikael Yourassowsky because of yellow card accumulation. Plus, Eric Avila was not eligible because he was cup-tied, and Joao Plata is still out with a strained hamstring.
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VIDEO: Aron Winter after the Pumas match.
Aron Winter's makeshift lineup then was under pressure immediately. Pumas were unfortunate not to come away with a goal as early as the eighth minute when Michelle Castro forced Milos Kocic to make the first save of the match after Nick Soolsma’s giveaway. Then Diego De Buena rattled the left post with a rocket of a shot from 20 yards after disspossessing a TFC defender.
But it was Toronto who ended up with opening the scoring. In the 35th minute, Marosevic pounced on a drop-back pass from striker Danny Koevermans. Ryan Johnson knocked down a high ball, Koevermans made the pass and Marosevic slotted home in the corner.
At halftime, Winter substituted defender Doneil Henry for Koevermans, as Toronto played five at the back to defend the one-goal lead.
That didn't stop Pumas though. The tying goal came in the 51st minute when Palacios headed the ball home a cross from Erick Vera.
Pumas nearly hit a winner with 10 minutes to play, when a shot ricocheted off Andy Iro's head and beat Kocic. But it could not beat the right post.
Kocic didn't need the post two minutes into stoppage time, when he saved a free kick from Javier Cortes.
Toronto wrap up group play with a trip to FC Dallas on October 18. Pumas finish up at home to Tauro FC.
Toronto - Milos Kocic; Richard Eckersley (Matt Gold 75'), Ty Harden, Andy Iro, Ashtone Morgan; Julian de Guzman, Matt Stinson, Peri Marosevic; Nick Soolsma (Javier Martina 66'), Danny Koevermans (Doneil Henry 45'), Ryan Johnson ... Substitutes: Stefan Frei; Danleigh Borman, Nathan Sturgis, Demitrius Omphroy
Pumas - Odin Patino; Mario Palacios, Dario Veron, Neftali Teja, Erik Vera; Diego De Buen, Kevin Quinones (Emilio Orrantia 45'), Michelle Castro, David Cabrera (Javier Cortes 45'); David Izazola, Eduardo Herrera (Martin Bravo 73') ... Substitutes: Alfredo Saldivar; Efrain Velarde, Juan Carlos Ramirez, Juan Carlos Cacho
Toronto - Marosevic 35'
Pumas - Palacios 51'
Toronto - Stinson 21' (caution)
Pumas - Izazola 77' (caution)
Toronto - Morgan 90+' (caution)
Referee: Neal Brizan (Trinidad & Tobago)
Assistant referees: Antonio Lopez (T&T), Javier Santos (Puerto Rico)
4th official: Patrick Michna (PR)