CCL Preview: Toronto not about to take Tauro lightly

TORONTO – Despite their 2-1 victory on Aug. 18 in Panama City, Toronto FC are not looking past Tauro FC in the return match this Tuesday at BMO Field (8 pm ET, FOX Soccer).

“Everybody has underestimated Tauro,” Toronto FC head coach and technical director Aron Winter said after Monday’s practice. “We are not doing that because if you see all the results, except our result in the first game, this is a team that is difficult to beat.”

After losing to Toronto in their opening Group C game in the CONCACAF Champions League, Tauro have played to a draw with both second-place Pumas UNAM, who have four points, and Group C leaders FC Dallas, who have seven.

The win over Tauro accounts for third-place Toronto’s three points from their three games in the group. They have since lost 1-0 to Dallas at home and 4-0 to Pumas in Mexico City last Wednesday. Tauro came back to tie Dallas 1-1 last Wednesday despite conceding a goal after 23 seconds in Frisco, Texas.

“They try hard,” said forward Ryan Johnson who scored one of Toronto’s goals at Panama City. “They’re not going to just let us play. We’re going to have to earn it.”

Toronto played well in the MLS games before and after the loss to Pumas, winning 4-2 at the Columbus Crew on Sept. 10 and 2-1 at home against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.

“Now, for the game [on Tuesday], it’s very important that we continue to keep those performances,” Winter said.

However, perhaps tired from their trip to Mexico and the altitude there, Toronto followed up their Columbus triumph by coming out flat against Pumas, going down four goals in the first half. Johnson said that on Tuesday, the Reds need to come out strong from the outset.

“We need to actually be the aggressor — put away our chances," Johnson said. "But at the same time they have a lot of pace on the wings and they try to play. We have to not give them the time to play, and at the same time give them as much problems as possible.”

And they must guard against taking a win for granted after beating them on their home pitch.

“That’s the mental game that football plays with you when you feel like you can beat a certain team,” Johnson said. “I know a lot of teams came here thinking, ‘Oh yeah, we can beat Toronto’ and it didn’t happen.”

Toronto will again be without forward Joao Plata, who strained a hamstring in the game in Columbus and still appears to be about three weeks away from a return.

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.