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Huge matches suddenly stacking up for Toronto FC

TFC head coach Aron Winter

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

TORONTO – Toronto FC’s task in the CONCACAF Champions League just got a little more interesting.

The Reds, who sit on six points after beating Tauro FC on Tuesday, are now just a point behind both Pumas UNAM and FC Dallas after the Mexican side defeated FCD on Wednesday.

While it makes Toronto’s CCL Group C tilt against Pumas next week particularly important, the Reds first must take care of business in MLS on Saturday when they travel to LA take on Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).

“Now I’m not thinking about the [Champions League] game for next week,” TFC head coach and technical director Aron Winter said on Tuesday. “I’m not going to look two and three games forward – always the next game, and it’s Chivas.”

The last time Toronto faced Chivas USA, the teams played to a 1-1 tie at BMO Field on April 2. Five months later, the rematch has taken on a lot more importance, as both have an outside shot of making it into the playoffs.

Toronto, 3-1-3 in their last seven matches, enter the Chivas match on a two-game winning streak in MLS, having beaten Columbus 4-2 and Colorado 2-1. Currently on 30 points – seven behind the Portland Timbers, who occupy the 10th playoff seed – a lot of things would have to go right for Toronto to make the playoffs.

Still, Winter remains positive and feels the team has improved from the one he took over at the beginning of the season.

“We’re still rebuilding,” he said. “And I like it because, in the beginning of the league, there were also some moments and periods where we were playing well but we didn’t win the games. Now, the last games, we are making a very huge improvement. That’s fine because, in the end, we came here to not only to rebuild but also to succeed in the league.”

While Winter said he is looking only as far ahead as the next game, he did concede he’s looking forward towards next season, when he will be able to continue to mold his overhauled club.

“We’re going to try survive in this group stage in CONCACAF and also to play the last games in the league well,” he said, “and thinking of next season, when you can play well from the beginning.”