Ryan Johnson and Julian de Guzman each scored a goal in the first half and the Toronto FC defense held on just long enough to finish the job as the Reds posted a 2-1 win over Tauro FC in the CONCACAF Champions League Group C opener for both teams on Thursday night in Panama City, Panama.
Luis Moreno scored the lone goal for Tauro FC from the penalty spot in the 76th minute, but it wasn’t enough to salvage a result against Toronto, who have now won both of their games away from home in this year’s tournament. They also topped Real Estelí in Nicaragua during the second leg of the preliminary round.
The win not only helped Toronto keep pace with three points atop Group C with fellow MLS side FC Dallas, but also gave MLS a perfect 5-0 record during this week’s group play openers.
The victory at Estadio Rommel Fernández in Panama City extended Toronto’s unbeaten run to six games in all competitions (four wins and two ties).
Johnson’s goal came in the 22nd minute, when he pounced on a bounding ball in the Tauro box after a defensive miscue on the hosts’ back line. Johnson promptly volleyed a shot past Tauro goalkeeper Álvaro Anzola.
TFC doubled the lead just two minutes later, when de Guzman unleashed a right-footed shot from 30 yards out that fooled Anzola and found the back of the net.
Tauro controlled much of the possession in the second half and finally capitalized after de Guzman took down Carlos Rodríguez with a tackle inside the TFC box. After a lengthy but unsuccessful argument from TFC assistant coach Bob de Klerk, Moreno promptly buried the penalty kick past TFC goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
Toronto FC second-half substitute Ashtone Morgan cleared the ball off the line in the 86th minute after Kocic collided with a Tauro player, and Richard Eckersley saved a goal in the 38th minute when he headed the ball off the line after Diego Canali chipped it over Kocic.
Toronto opened with three at the back as they did in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake. Torsten Frings played in the middle in that match but was suspended for this match because of his two yellow cards in the preliminary round, so Ty Harden played in the middle, flanked by Eckersley and Andy Iro.
Eckerlsey and Iro both picked up first-half cautions, and late in the half Dasan Robinson came on for Iro. Striker Danny Koevermans came out of the game in the 57th minute with an apparent leg injury. Kocic again started with regular keeper Stefan Frei a reserve.
Toronto FC return to action at home on Aug. 24 against FC Dallas, while Tauro host Mexican side Pumas UNAM on Aug. 25.
TOR -- Johnson, 22’
TOR -- De Guzman, 24’
TAU -- Moreno, 76’
TOR –Iro, 20’
TOR – Eckersley, 32’
TOR – Stinson, 46’
TOR –Kocic, 55’
TAU – Moreno, 82’
TOR –De Guzman, 91’
TORONTO FC: Milos Kocic; Ty Harden, Andy Iro (Dasan Robinson, 37’), Danleigh Borman, Richard Eckersley: Matt Stinson (Ashtone Morgan, 45’), Joao Plata, Julian de Guzman, Peri Marosevec; Ryan Johnson, Danny Koevermans (Mikael Yourassowsky,58’).
TAURO FC: Alvaro Anzola; Gabriel Rios (Manuel Vargas, 33’), Reinel Herrera, Luis Moreno, Leonel Parris, Carlos Rodriguez; Marcos Sanchez, Juan Perez, Juan Perrera; Auriel Gallardo (Manuel Vargas, 57’), Diego Canali.