Tigres tops TFC in the Campeones Cup

Tigres UANL got their revenge over TFC at BMO Field for knocking them out of the Champions League earlier this season in a 3-1 win in the inaugural Campeones Cup.

The first time event hosted by the MLS appeared to be a success. The turnout was 14,823 and both sides fielded a strong starting lineup making the match a competitive one.

From the opening whistle to about midway through the first half it was Toronto who was playing more of a fast-paced game and generating more chances.

Jay Chapman had a header go off the crossbar and TFC failed to convert on a mad scramble or two in front of goal and went into halftime without a goal.

“I thought for the first 25 minutes I thought we had pretty good control,” said TFC head coach Greg Vanney. “Then there was a little stretch where we lost three balls in a row that we needed to secure and get into our possession and we gave the ball right back to them. In that stretch, they started to really gather momentum and started to dictate the game on the ball against us.”

The biggest story of the first half for TFC was Sebastian Giovinco going down holding what looked like his ankle, just what Toronto needed at this point in their final playoff spot chase. He would limp off in the 40th minute and it was confirmed to be tightness in his calf.

From the beginning Tigres looked as if they were sitting back and focused more on keeping possession of the ball, moving it around making TFC chase them and seeing if they can find a hole. They stayed very patient and in the end, it was them who broke through and took a 1-nil lead into halftime.

Jesus Duenas –the eventual player of the match– caught Eriq Zavaleta sleeping and was able to slip in behind him and the back line before beating Alex Bono short side. Poor defensive play has been the biggest issue all year for Toronto and it once again burned them.

The second half wouldn’t be better for the Reds. Immediately Tigres could smell blood and went straight for TFC, hitting a goal post and bringing the attack in waves.

It was midway through the second half when Duenas hit a rocket through the crowd and into the bottom corner of the net to make it 2-nil.

The dagger which sent most of TFC’s top players to the showers.

Everything about Tigres’ third goal defined Toronto’s 2018 campaign. A missed slide tackle which would eventually turn into an own goal put Tigres up 3-nil.

Toronto really struggled to get anything going until the game was out of reach. They were able to muster up a few late chances but the game really rode on the earlier opportunities which weren’t converted.

The Reds were able to get on the scoresheet though. Late in the match, Lucas Janson converted a penalty shot to make it 3-1, but that would be as close as TFC would get.

“I thought we had a really good start, we did a lot of things that we wanted to do,” said TFC captain Michael Bradley. “As has been too often the case we had a few minutes of madness in the second half where the game gets out of reach.”

When asked about the Campeones Cup, the players all, for the most part, had the same answer. It’s an event with a lot of upside and a good opportunity to showcase the talent in the MLS and in Liga MX.

“It’s very good I think it’s something for sure that should become a tradition,” said TFC’s Jonathan Osorio. “Both teams put out a strong team to start with so that shows that we were taking it seriously, both teams wanted to win, and I think if both leagues go in with that mindset every year than it’ll only get bigger and bigger.”

The biggest question surrounding this game was the timing and when it should really be played. The game didn’t serve in Toronto’s favor at the moment because they’re chasing a playoff spot but for the most part, the players aren’t sure when a good time to play this game is.

“The timing of this game is always going to be tricky no matter what,” said TFC’s Jonathan Osorio. “There’s no good time to play this game.”

As for the rivalry, the two teams started in the Champions League.

“It’s a good team. A team [Tigres] we have a lot of respect for.” Said Bradley.

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