On Sept. 19, the Campeones Cup had its inaugural debut at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario. Reigning MLS champions Toronto FC faced off against reigning Liga MX champions Tigres UANL, with Tigres beating the Canadian side 3-1.
Since winning the MLS Cup in 2017, Toronto have been abysmal this season. The team is currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and have struggled to replicate their form from last season. And this game was more or less the same.
From the beginning, Toronto looked very disorganized and energetic. They were giving away chances left and right, losing possession in the midfield, and the defense just barely seemed to be there. Tigres capitalized on these struggles, nearly scoring three times in the first half. The Mexican side finally broke through in the 36th minute, with Jesus Dueñas making a great run behind the Toronto defense and slotting it effortlessly past goalkeeper Alex Bono. But the pain didn’t stop there for Toronto.
In the 64th minute, Dueñas doubled the lead after a deflection off a corner kick landed right in his path, prompting him to slot a long range strike past Bono once again. To add to Toronto’s misery, only a minute later Toronto defender Eriq Zavaleta scored an own goal trying to clear the ball away, making the score 3-0 Tigres.
However, Toronto would be awarded a consolation goal in the 85th minute after Tigres conceded a penalty after a question call for a handball. Lucas Janson would slot the penalty calmly, making the score 3-1. Unfortunately, that’s the best Toronto could do and Tigres ended up winning the first iteration of the Campeones Cup, adding to the team’s already impressive amount of trophies.
Sadly for Toronto, it looks like the team might not make the playoffs this year, being 9 points behind Canadian rivals Montreal Impact, who currently sit in 6th place. Toronto have 30 points from 28 games, still with a game to play. But unless they pull off a miraculous comeback in the last few months of the season, I don’t see them making the playoffs this year.
But who or what is to blame for Toronto’s bad run of form this season? Championship hangover? The pressure of maintaining the title of MLS Champions? Team dynamics? Well, whatever the reason, the MLS playoffs without Toronto FC would be very weird for all MLS fans.
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