ORLANDO, Fla. – Toronto FC are not shy about professing their belief that they can beat the MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal stage.
The first leg is set for March 7 in Toronto.
“Yeah, we feel that we can beat them,” winger Nick Soolsma told MLSsoccer.com at the end of Friday’s practice session at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. “Of course it’s a difficult game and LA is a good team, but we’re confident in ourselves and believe in our own qualities and I think we can beat LA.”
With only 12 days remaining until that first battle vs. LA at the Rogers Centre, TFC’s brimming confidence will be tested on Saturday night at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic against USL club Orlando City (live stream on MLSsoccer.com Channel 2 at 6 pm ET). History is not on the side of the Reds.
Last year, the first under the management of Dutchman Aron Winter, they were upset by that same Orlando City in a 1-0 third-place match defeat.
“Everything was different then,” Soolsma said about the 2011 edition of the Disney tournament. “We were playing a new system for a lot of players. We had a lot of players on trial. Now it’s different. We’ve already played a long time with the same players. It’s going to be different.”
Names like Chris Hunter, Ivo de Heus and Jamal Gay dotted Toronto’s lineup, which was clearly disjointed on the field as the players assimilated the new system that Winter was seeking to introduce. Soolsma himself was a trialist at the time.
“I think we are on the right way,” the 24-year-old Dutchman said of the current TFC squad. “I think during last season we improved a lot already and we are now building further on that. I’m confident about our team.”
Soolsma is one of two players suspended for that first leg against the LA Galaxy. Julian de Guzman, who will not be part of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic due to national team commitments, is also ruled out of the first CCL clash along with the cup-tied Eric Avila.
Winter is unfazed by the setbacks his team has to overcome in the lead-up to the LA match.
“I know everything about my team,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “We know it [who’s missing for CCL] and we’ll deal with it. And we’ll be creative enough to resolve it.”
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