Marky Delgado volleyed a would-be winner high and wide from an inviting spot in the game’s dying minutes. Jonathan Osorio clanged his spot kick off the crossbar in the penalty-kick shootout, and moments later Michael Bradley missed the target altogether to hand Chivas de Guadalajara the Concacaf Champions League title.
There were plenty of “woulda coulda shoulda” moments for Toronto FC in Wednesday night’s gripping CCL finale in Guadalajara. But no finger-pointing or assigning of blame took place in the locker room, players told the media afterwards.
“Disappointed, but very, very, very proud,” said Bradley in the mixed zone at Estadio Akron. “A team full of warriors that spilled their guts on the field tonight. It would have been so easy to make excuses. So many other teams would have lost their way. But throughout the entire tournament, we just kept going, we kept competing, we kept playing, we were fearless, and in the biggest moments, we [expletive] went for it. That’s all you can ask for.”
Delgado’s last-gasp chance, created by a pinpoint cross from Sebastian Giovinco, is likely to cause the most nightmares for the US international and his TFC teammates, coaches and fans.
“I’m not a big believer in luck, I’m a believer in execution. That ball fell very nicely for Marky. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to hit the target,” said head coach Greg Vanney. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t execute in the moment. I don’t think it’s about luck for Chivas. We have to make them pay in that moment, and we didn’t.”
“I take responsibility for missing the last-minute shot. It went over,” Delgado told the Toronto Sun’s Kurt Larson. “That’s football sometimes. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes it goes in. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s heartbreaking.”
Goalkeeper Alex Bono allowed Alan Pulido's long-range free kick to arrow over his head in the first leg, the game-winning moment in Chivas’ 2-1 win at BMO Field last week, and on Wednesday he spoke of collective responsibility and unity in the Reds’ locker room.
“It's difficult. It's difficult in both scenarios,” said Bono when asked to compare his moment with Delgado’s. “We're a team. Obviously everyone's pretty silent after this one in the locker room; the feeling is pretty low right now.
“We don't put those on individual players. Guys said to me after last week, 'listen, we don't put that on you. We're going to need you in the second leg.' And I'm sure the same things will be said to Marky. We don't put these losses on one individual player. That's just the dynamic of our team and the dynamic of our group.”