TORONTO – Toronto FC find themselves in a nearly impossible situation in the CONCACAF Champions League after their 3-1 loss to Santos Laguna on Tuesday, but admitted they have only themselves to blame for letting a late point slip away from them.
Santos scored goals in the 90th and 92nd minutes to take control of their three-team group with two wins in as many games and deliver a critical blow to the Reds' hopes of a second consecutive knockout-round appearance.
“We’ve put ourselves in a deep hole now,” Toronto forward Andrew Wiedeman conceded.
Though Toronto knew a home win could be critical to their chances of getting out of the group, it appeared as though they were ready to take a draw with the score knotted at 1-1 in the dying minutes.
“A draw wouldn’t have been ideal,” Wiedeman said. “We came in wanting three points and we didn’t want to settle for anything less. But when you get down to the 89th minute and you’re tied 1-1, at that point, you’d take it.”
The Reds have played both their home games in the four-game group stage and are 1-1-0, with CD Águila of El Salvador sitting third at 0-2-0.
TFC had some momentum late in the game after they had fought back to tie it in the 68th minute on a scrappy goal by Quincy Amarikwa, who came in as a halfitme substitute for Eric Hassli, and the fightback had them feeling good.
Santos, however, showed they weren’t content to settle for a draw, hitting the post just before Daniel Ludueña scored the tiebreaking goal.
“In the second half, everyone in there felt we could have gotten the win,” Wiedeman said. “We got the goal, had the momentum going, were really pressuring their goal and it didn’t come off and then at the end they came down and hit our post. That probably should have been a wakeup call for all of us. We didn’t take it too seriously. I guess.
“We’re definitely going to have our work cut out for us now going down to El Salvador and then down to Mexico. We’re not only going to have to get results, but we’re going to have to get lots of goals in the process. It’s a lot tougher this year with only three teams in a group and only one team going through. Every game matters. Unfortunately we only played 89 minutes.”
Toronto will play Águila in El Salvador on Sept. 25 and will finish the group stage against Santos on Oct. 24 in Torreón, Mexico. They will need to win both games and hope Águila does them an improbable favor by taking points from Santos in the two teams' Sept. 19 clash in San Salvador.