Toronto FC came agonizingly close to winning the 2018 Concacaf Champions League, but after defeating Chivas de Guadalajara, 2-1, in the second leg of the final on Wednesday night in Estadio Akron, they fell in the resulting penalty shootout, 4-2, as the Liga MX side took the regional crown.
TFC's win brought the series aggregate to 3-3, but two misses by the Canadian side in the shootout, coupled with Chivas going 4-for-4 in their spot kicks, ensured the trophy remained in Mexican hands, which have raised it every year since the 2008 introduction of the CCL.
In Wednesday's game, Chivas extended the aggregate lead to 3-1 when Orbelin Pineda completed a counterattack with a tally off a pass from Rodolfo Pizarro to open the scoring.
But Toronto FC had an answer shortly thereafter, as Nicolas Hasler's tenacity with the ball in the box lead to a sharp low cross against the grain, and Jozy Altidore turned the ball into the net. The goal tied the game and brought TFC within a goal on aggregate.
Then, just before halftime, Sebastian Giovinco took a pass from Marky Delgado, ran into the box, and blasted a shot just inside the near post to bring TFC ahead 2-1 on the night and tied on aggregate.
Following a wide-open, but scoreless second half, the game went to the penalty shootout after 90 minutes. Giovinco converted the first kick for TFC, but Jonathan Osorio's attempt went off the crossbar. Delgado then scored his shot, but Michael Bradley's attempt sailed well over the bar, while Chivas' perfect shootout earned them the victory.
- 19' – CHV – Orbelin Pineda
- 25' – TOR – Jozy Altidore
- 44' – TOR – Sebastian Giovinco
- THE BIG PICTURE: Toronto FC came closer than any MLS team in the CCL era, in an unprecedented run that included back-to-back aggregate victories over Tigres UANL and Club America, but it will be scant consolation after falling by the slimmest of margins. Chivas, meanwhile, take their first confederation crown since the 1962 Concacaf Champions Cup.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Heartbreaking as it is, Bradley's penalty kick was the clincher for Chivas and doomed TFC to second place. After a game in which TFC showed massive heart and played an unconventional lineup out of necessity, it is a moment that will linger in CCL and TFC lore for years to come.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Giovinco was a man on a mission, and his about-face, taking a yellow card out of frustration before scoring the go-ahead goal on the night moments later helped encapsulate a blistering run through the tournament, in which he was involved in 11 of the 13 goals scored by the Canadian outfit.