Toronto FC hold off Colorado to advance in the Champions League

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 09: Sebastian Giovinco
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 09: Sebastian Giovinco /

In a dull, but important second leg, Toronto FC advanced to the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League after defeating the Colorado Rapids 2-0 on aggregate.

Toronto FC are one step closer to achieving more silverware under Greg Vanney. A win in the Champions League qualifies them for the FIFA Club World Cup, where world exposure to the club is a guarantee.

However, it won’t be an easy path to glory for Vanney’s men. The quarter-finals see TFC taking on UANL, otherwise known as the Tigres. They survived a thriller against Herediano by winning 5-3, and are heavy favorites to win the tournament.

The Reds looked cool and composed from preseason football across the two legs. They didn’t necessarily have to get goals in the second game; the Reds just had to play out the tie at BMO Field.

The North started to establish that goal in the 20th minute, so it did take some time to get going. Jonathan Osorio has done so well in the middle of the park with his on-the-ball movement. The Canadian found Sebastian Giovinco, who fired a shot just wide of Zac MacMath.

The Atomic Ant got in on creating some chances as well. Last game, he was thrown off the ball quite frequently. Yet, the Italian was able to find Justin Morrow streaking down the wing, who scorched his shot off from a tough angle.

Dominque Badji had himself a good run in the first leg for the Rapids. He tried to get that critical first half away goal towards stoppage time, but his shot ringed off the post and out of play.

It’s very close to the truth to say this game was full of ball movement, and therefore a lack of quality chances.

Giovinco’s free-kick in the 78th minute was inches wide, and that was probably the closest to a goal all night. Drew Moor also got a header away from a Victor Vazquez corner, but MacMath was up to the test yet again.

Another big story-line from this one is that Ager Aketxe made his debut. He did get some runs here and there, while also providing a chance that just went over the bar. The former Bilbao man needs more minutes to really make a full impact, and it is something Vanney will likely look to in the future.

Men of the Match

Toronto FC
TORONTO, ON – DECEMBER 09: Jonathan Osorio /

A really good rebound performance from Giovinco, after what most felt was a decent at best game in the last leg. He looked more calm and poised on the ball, and he wasn’t just taking shots for the heck of it in this fixture.

The Italian’s ball distribution was spot-on, and it was evident early on when finding Morrow and Jozy Altidore on separate occasions.

Really keep an eye out for Osorio this year. He’s only 21-years-old, and he’s possessing qualities that a veteran would have thus far. He could be the key part to back-to-back titles for Toronto FC this year if he can keep pace.

Key Stats

Toronto FC

  • 16 shots
  • 58 percent possession
  • Key Player: Giovinco

Colorado Rapids

  • 11 shots
  • 42 percent possession
  • Key Player: MacMath seemed to be thrown in the game for a reason that has yet to be found out. Regardless, the youngster did well for himself by keeping the Reds off the board. He really could’ve been used in the first leg.

TFC Subs: Clint Irwin, Ashtone Morgan, Ager Aketxe, Eriq Zavaleta, Jordan Hamilton, Chris Mavinga, Nicolas Hasler.

Champions League Updates

At this point in time, only three teams including Toronto have advanced the the next round. Tijuana edged out Motagua 2-1 on aggregate and await the winner of the New York Red Bulls and Olimpia clash, which is currently tied at 1-1.

Club America held on to a dominating lead in the first leg over Saprissa 5-1. Tauro has a lead over FC Dallas, while the Seattle Sounders are trailing against Santa Tacla in their tie. Not a really strong showing from MLS clubs so far in the competition.

Next Up for the Reds

More from Tip of the Tower

TFC is going to have a lot on their plate once the MLS season kicks off on Mar. 3. However, a gut feeling suggests the Reds can handle it.

One has to wonder which competition Vanney will value more? The MLS has been won, and the Champions League is a chance at some different silverware. We’re not suggesting TFC should tank league play, but they should still put out the strongest lineup possible in the CL.

The first leg with Tigres happens next Wednesday on Mar. 7 at BMO Field. Tough competition with Toronto FC playing at home first, which hasn’t been the case for a long time in recent leg fixtures for them.

As always, catch all your Champions League coverage for the Reds right here on Tip of the Tower.

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Share your thoughts on the game, stand-out performers or the next contest against Tigres in the comments section below!