TFC 0 Islanders 0
National Post, with files from news services Published: Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Toronto FC knew it had to score goals last night. The Puerto Rico Islanders knew they only had to prevent them.
And the result, given Toronto’s offensive struggles much of the year, was predictable –a 0-0 draw that ended TFC’s run in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Toronto had won the right to represent Canada with a stunning 6-1 win over Montreal in June, a game the Major League Soccer team entered needing at least four goals to advance.
But while the deficit was smaller against the Islanders — Puerto Rico won the first game of the two-match tie, beating TFC 1-0 in Toronto last week — the challenge might have been greater.
«It’s very difficult. [The Islanders] feed off the crowd,» Toronto defender Marco Velez, a former Islander, said last week.
«It’s hot and they play with a lot of confidence in Puerto Rico….They’re a lot more dangerous [at home] than they are on the road.»
The Reds needed at least two goals last night to win the series outright, and one to force overtime. They tried to push the play early, with Dwayne De Rosario heading a ball wide in the sixth minute and Ali Gerba drilling a long free kick wide six minutes later.
But they almost found themselves down 2-0 on aggregate when the Islanders hit the post in the 13th minute.
Puerto Rico, who play in the United Soccer Leagues First Division with Vancouver and Montreal, seemed to content to play much of the game at midfield.
Still, Toronto had its chances, with Amado Guevera coming within inches of a goal in the 53rd minute and the Reds hitting a post in the 77th minute.
But despite carrying the play for stretches of the second half, Toronto could not beat Islanders keeper William Gaudette.
Puerto Rico will move on to the group stage of the Champions League, where the Islanders will face the Columbus Crew of the MLS, Deportivo Saprissa from Costa Rica, and the winner between Costa Rica’s CS Herediano and Mexico’s Cruz Azul.
Toronto, meanwhile, will prepare for a friendly against the Spanish side Real Madrid at BMO Field on Friday.