CCL: De Guzman pleased Toronto refused to back down

TORONTO – Toronto FC showed some fight on Wednesday in more ways than one.

First, they recovered from a first-half deficit to tie Santos Laguna 1-1 in the firs leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals at BMO Field, a game that ended with the teams shoving each other in a melee near the Toronto goal.

Midfielder Julian de Guzman feels it was a good sign for Toronto moving forward – both in the CCL and in MLS play, where the Reds haven’t been at their best.

“It was great to see,” de Guzman told reporters after the match. “That is the reaction we need on the field. We have each other’s back out there, we showed it at that moment. Even after the 90 minutes, when the whistle was blown, the guys were there for each other and that is very important with this team.”

Still, the 30-year-old Canadian international, who has worn the armband with Torsten Frings out with a hamstring injury, realizes the incident could make the second leg at Estadio Corona in Torreón on April 4 even more difficult.

“They already warned us that it is going to be a war over there, and we know that ourselves,” de Guzman said. “We’ve already had that experience playing in Cruz Azul and Pumas. We know what type of atmosphere it’s going to be over there and now we kind of sparked up some more fire after this game for these guys.

“I mean, it’s what you want as well. We are ready for it, we are looking forward to it and the guys are going to be prepared.”

In truth, they’ll have to be, or de Guzman and his teammates could suffer the same fate as Seattle, who entered their quarterfinal second leg with a 2-1 lead.

Toronto FC have performed well in their three CCL matches this year, eliminating the heavily favored LA Galaxy 4-3 on aggregate in the quarterfinals in addition to Wednesday’s result.

However, they have yet to have hit their stride in league play, losing both of their matches thus far by a total of 6-1. The low point came in last Saturday’s home opener, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of San Jose.

Toronto hope to right that slide on Saturday when they play the Columbus Crew at BMO Field in the first meeting in 2012 between the Trillium Cup rivals (2 pm ET, TSN in Canada, MLS Live in US).

“I think that this game was a good way to rebound from the difficult result that we endured last weekend,” de Guzman said, “and it is good motivation going in to Saturday’s game against Columbus.”