CCL: Toronto looking forward to Galaxy challenge
TORONTO – Toronto FC will play a familiar and formidable foe in the LA Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals next March, and the Reds are looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s a great and a nice draw,” Toronto FC head coach and technical director Aron Winter said in a conference call after the draw on Tuesday. “It’s not going to be very easy for us."
Although Winter said he did not have a preference in opponent, since all the teams are good that this stage, he feels the Galaxy have a great fan appeal with the household names in the squad – whether David Beckham returns or not – including Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan.
“I don’t know, it’s not our problem,” Winter said when asked if he thought Beckham might return to the Galaxy next season. “It should be nice if he’s still in it. [But] it doesn’t matter, with or without David Beckham, I think LA showed this year in the league and the playoffs that they’ve got a very good team. There are also a lot of players you have to be aware of.”
The Galaxy finished with the best record in the regular season in MLS this year and will play the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup on Nov. 20, while TFC failed to make the playoffs for the fifth year in a row.
However, when they meet in Toronto on any day between March 6-8 for the first game of the home-and-home series, both squads will be on equal footing, kicking off their their seasons right after training camp.
“I think we are in the same situation with LA,” Winter said. “I think that we’re going to start the preseason at the same time as almost all the other MLS teams. Of course, there will always be pros and cons, [but] we know a lot about LA and how they play and what to expect.”
The other possibilities in the draw were Mexican teams who would have already been in the middle of the Clausura tournament and thus would have entered the match with some sort of rhythm.
Winter said that although first leg of the series will be played in Toronto, it’s still under discussion whether it would take place at their regular home, BMO Field, or under the roof of Rogers Centre, the 50,000-plus capacity home of baseball's Blue Jays and the CFL's Argonauts.
Furthermore, if Winter and director of player development Paul Mariner have their way, there will be improvements along the back line as well as in the overall depth of the team.
Despite how well Toronto are or aren’t reinforced or how much star power the Galaxy bring into the match, the Reds coach said his team will be ready.
“We are going to be prepared for all those things,” Winter said.