TORONTO – There are still 90 minutes left.
“It was a very difficult game,” said Chivas manager Matias Almeyda through a translator post-match. “We played against a very good team that knows how to possess the ball.”
Almeyda's side stunned the hosts early, scoring inside of two minutes through Rodolfo Pizarro, who nabbed a precious away goal before the fans had even settled.
“It was a bad goal to give up,” said Toronto's Greg Vanney. “We're two minutes in, it's a throw-in on the side, we've got to deal with it better. It puts us in a hole to start.”
Toronto would pull level through Jonathan Osorio in the 19th minute, the Canadian scoring in a fourth straight CCL series.
“It was a great reaction,” said Vanney. “Our team is experienced in big games, we understand what it is like. After the goal we had the better part of the first half. Second, we could have got a little more out of it than we did. Ultimately, the goals are the goals.”
Toronto passed on numerous chances to take the lead, leaving the door open for Chivas to stun the crowd in the 72nd minute when Alan Pulido's free kick sailed over the head of Alex Bono and into the TFC goal.
“We had some opportunities, we didn't make due of those,” noted Vanney. “We gave away two goals that we shouldn't and we find ourselves in a little bit of a hole as we go to Mexico.”
Michael Bradley was not surprised by how the match played out.
“It went the way we expected it to in a lot of ways,” he said. “We know how they play, know the ways they like to get after opponents. It was everything we expected.
“We had some good chances to tilt the bar in our favor tonight, we weren't able to take advantage,” he lamented. “That's football.”
He sounded a note of quiet defiance, however.
“We're at halftime,” continued the TFC captain. “Would we have preferred to come away with a win at home? Absolutely. But we can go there and win too. We're going to regroup, mentally, physically, and get ready to go there and give everything we've got for 90 minutes.”
Asked if his side were now favorites, heading into next Wednesday's return leg at Estadio Akron, their mile-high home, Almeyda declined.
“No. There are still 90 minutes left in this game,” he said. “The result is still open.
“Now both myself and [Vanney] have the benefit of each other because we know how the other team plays,” continued Almeyda. “Even if the result would have been a tie or a loss, I still would have believed the same. [The series] is still open going back to Guadalajara.”
Even with the one-goal advantage and the security of the two away goals, Almeyda would not be drawn on looking past TFC to the FIFA Club World Cup.
“There are still 90 minutes left,” repeated Almeyda. “Our team is a team that plays with humility and unity. We're looking forward to the second leg.”
So, too, are Toronto.
“There is everything to play for in the second leg,” said defender Drew Moor. “We created some good chances tonight. Giving up an early goal puts you in the hole, but we responded extremely well. Chivas are a good team. We knew that. We're still very positive going into the second leg.”
Added Bradley: “Tonight didn't go perfectly for us. That's football. It's also the beauty of two-legged finals. We've got 90 more minutes to go.”