Toronto FC will host Mexico’s Santos Laguna as part of the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday August 28, 2012 (8:00 PM EDT). Both teams defeated (basically destroyed), common group Salvadorian rival, Aguila, and virtually eliminated them from the competition. Whoever wins the home-and-away series between Toronto and Santos will be the winner of Group 1 and will get to advance to the knockout stages.
Toronto FC currently finds itself at the bottom of MLS Eastern Conference standings, having earned just 21 points out of 26 matches played; Toronto will not be playing in the MLS playoffs, the CONCACAF Champions League is all they have left. In fact, since defeating Aguila 5-1 back on August 1st, Toronto has gone five games without winning a match, losing three and drawing two (all MLS matches). To put it simply, Toronto FC has been a total mess, and will have a very tough time getting a win against defending Liga MX champions, Santos Laguna. By the way, for those of you interested in CCL odds, the sportsbook review here talks about sites, which cover the CCL and other soccer leagues.
However, Liga MX teams do seem to struggle with away matches in the CCL (recent example: Chivas vs Xelaju), and Toronto FC will play this match as it were an authentic final. Toronto’s next two CCL matches will be away games at Santos and Aguila; Toronto knows that it will struggle in those games, and not earning the three points at home against Santos would basically mean elimination.
The defending Mexican champions, Santos Laguna, sort of find themselves in a similar position to Toronto. Santos defeated Agula by a wide margin at home (5-0), but are doing poorly in their home league, having gone without a win in the past four Liga MX matches, and currently in 10th place of the standings (although Santos still has a good chance of making the playoffs). However, Santos has a plethora of individual talent that is capable of providing sparks of brilliance, which can lead to a good result. Furthermore, the Santos ownership takes the CCL very seriously, so you can expect Santos will field its best possible squad (unlike other Liga MX teams that apparently hate international tournaments *cough* Tigres *cough*).
Prediction: This match is basically a final for Toronto FC, they are out of the MLS playoffs and know that this is their only chance of salvaging a bad season. Expect Toronto FC to play with all they’ve got and go out looking for a win. However, Santos is a team that just last season made it to the CCL final and won the Liga MX, the current squad basically unchanged. Santos’ players will rise up to the challenge and defeat Toronto FC, virtually eliminating them from the CCL The final score will be Toronto FC 1 – Santos 2.
Television: The game will be shown on Fox Soccer Channel, Tuesday, August 28, at 8:00 PM EST.
-Group 1 is the only CCL group that features a Liga MX team and a MLS team.
-Omar Mares and Christian Suarez are out injures for Santos.