Power outages. Ice beards in sub-zero temperatures. Goalkeepers with cell phones. Crazy 10-man comebacks. This is the CONCACAF Champions League I’ve come to love, equal parts sporting drama and head-scratching moments.
That duality is why we created #CCLFever Bingo for this year’s tournament and why I was particularly tickled when a photo of a Tauro FC assistant coach started making the rounds on Twitter following the Panamanian side’s 1-0 home victory against FC Dallas in the first leg of their Round of 16 matchup.
El argentino Javier Ainstein, asistente técnico del Tauro FC. se disfrazó de aficionado del @FCDallas para espiar a su rival de cara al primer duelo por la #SCCL2018— Deporte Total USA (@DEPORTETOTALUSA) February 22, 2018
Su acción parece que dio frutos, al menos en el primer juego. Ayer el Tauro FC derrotó 1-0 al FC Dallas pic.twitter.com/jeP5t6XmJs
Internet sleuths, myself included, immediately went about trying to decipher what was going on in Javier Ainstein's selfie from an easily identifiable Toyota Stadium.
Why was Ainstein wearing FC Dallas colors? Why was his face covered? Was he in disguise in order to sneak into training unannounced for some illicit scouting? If so, why would he post the photo publicly on his Instagram account and retweet it on Twitter?
The truth, as it turns out, wasn't the Tom Clancy story we hoped it might be, as I found out with help from FC Dallas' Carter Baum and via Twitter DMs with Ainstein himself.
Yes, Ainstein travelled to Texas to scout FC Dallas, bringing cameras and notebooks with him. No, he wasn't spying or somewhere he wasn't supposed to be.
FCD did not practice in the stadium ahead of Leg One. This is not from training as is being reported, but rather one of the open to the public preseason friendlies held two weeks back. https://t.co/iM0isB4EAy— Carter Baum (@CarterBaum) February 22, 2018
Ainstein scouted a public friendly, which is just smart. You can't blame the Panamanians for doing their due diligence, especially since reporters also spotted Chuy Vera, the MLS side's director of international scouting, taking in Tauro FC games ahead of the series.
OK, what about the FC Dallas ball cap and scarf, I wondered? Turns out that's pretty explainable, too.
Ainstein got the hat when he traveled to Dallas Cup with the academy team, and he bought the blanket (not a scarf) in the stadium because the weather was much colder than he expected, which also explains why his face was covered. No disguises here!
Next up for Tauro FC is Wednesday's return leg (10 pm ET; go90.com, UnivisionDeportes.com) at a stadium Ainstein should be plenty familiar with. While leg one went as planned, I reminded Ainstein that there were still 90 minutes left to play before we'd know if his scouting truly paid off.
"Exactly," he said.
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