Toronto FC hit down the goal to secure a 1-1 draw against Club León in the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 first leg. Pozuelo-less Toronto squad made a remarkable performance against the Leon Side, who is ahead with 19 more games since TFC's last competitive outing in November 2020. As we are piqued to next week's second leg at the Osceola County Stadium, here are few takeaways from TFC's impressive first-leg result.
1. A goal made a difference
The deflected effort by Erickson Gallardo resulted in a goal by León defender Andres Mosquera that not only levelled up the game but also helped TFC assist a goal so the team could make the tie. If Eriq Zavaleta and Omar Gonzalez display their first leg defensive performance next week, Toronto will most likely take the hold. Toronto can make way for victory by any scoreline or via a 0-0 draw. The important away goal will mean that if TFC maintains a clean sheet in Kissimmee, they are all set to mark their presence in the quarterfinals.
2. It's time for Altidore to put shooting boots on
After the absence of Alejandro Pozuelo meant that Jozy Altidore needed to rely on others to create clear-cut chances for him. However, before León's opening goal, the American international would have made a striking appearance, but the veteran striker's lack of execution was clear today.
We saw a sudden collapse in the early momentum by TFC in the first half. But if Leon would have established an impression initially, they would have achieved the tie much earlier.
Altidore will definitely regret his performance about missing a couple of goals in the opening game.
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3. Night to remember for TFC's youngsters
What a splendid performance by TFC's youngsters this night. Noble Okello, the Canadian prodigy who made his first-ever start for the Estadio León club, was the major highlight in the first half.
The night to stan him for a series of beautifully placed passes to help Toronto get a testament of creativity he can bring to the squad. Central midfielder Ralph Priso was also the game stealer with his calm and collected showing alongside Michael Bradley, which made clear why 18 years old is truly one for the future.
A 19-year-old Luke Singh was also a TFC debutant last night, who entered a four-day deal just hours before the game, came off the bench with three minutes plus stoppage time to play.
4. Pozuelo's and Osorio's quality were missed
Despite the stellar performances of Okello and Priso, it would have made more sense to the TFC's midfield if Alejandro Pozuelo and Jonathan Osorio were on the pitch. Osorio holds an extensive experience in the CCL which can be used as an advantage for the squad, and while Pozuelo who haven't yet made continental debut for TFC, but his international playing experience in Europe, most notably in the UEFA Europa League with Swansea and Genk, would be an addition to Toronto in high-caliber games.
5. All ends well!
An injury-hit Toronto FC to play their first competitive game in five months and ultimately return to Florida with a draw, and an away goal clearly states the entire squad is set for success this coming season.