Toronto FC beats Rapids to advance to Champions League quarterfinals

The Canadian Press
Toronto FC beats Rapids to advance to Champions League quarterfinals
Toronto FC beats Rapids to advance to Champions League quarterfinals

TORONTO — Fresh off its first MLS Cup-winning season, Toronto FC is looking ahead to its next challenge — and so far, its succeeding.

Toronto advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, beating the Colorado Rapids 2-0 on aggregrate following a 0-0 draw Tuesday night. TFC earned a 2-0 win over the Rapids in Colorado last week in the first leg of the round-of-16 series. 

Toronto will host Mexican side Tigres in the quarterfinals next Wednesday. The Tigres defeated Herediano 2-1 on Tuesday and advanced 5-3 on aggregate.

"This is why we've been looking forward to playing this event — just to try to play the best teams possible," Toronto coach Greg Vanney said. "Obviously Tigres took care of their business on the other side and we know they're one of the best arguably the best, depending on what you want to talk about.

"I think we have different leagues and different styles, obviously one of the best in North America. For us, it's a fantastic series, we look forward to it."

Rapids keeper Zac MacMath made three saves while Alex Bono stopped four shots for the Reds.

Chris Mavinga had Toronto's best chance of the second half in stoppage time, but he wasn't able to tap in Jozy Altidore's free kick.

Colorado's Dominique Badji nearly opened the scoring in the 56th minute but Bono dove to get a hand on the shot and deflected it wide.

"We obviously went into it nil-nil and tried to play our game and make sure we're at least getting the draw when we're ahead," said Bono. "If we can get a draw in, we know that gives us a chance to move on. For us, we go into it nil-nil, we play our game, we make sure we're focused and ready."

Badji had Colorado's best chance of the first half, beating Bono with a shot, but he put it off the post. Badji also had an opportunity in the 33rd minute, from the top of the area, but Bono was in position to smother the shot.

Sebastian Giovinco had several chances at the game's opening goal in the first 45 minutes.

In the 23rd minute, off some nice footwork by Jonathan Osorio, Giovinco put his shot wide of the goal. Then in the 31st minute, on a partial break, Giovinco put his right-footed strike over the bar.

Fourteen minutes later, Giovinco one-touched a Victor Vazquez feed just wide of the goal.

"I thought we probably missed a couple chances early, if we get those goals, it probably changes the game a little bit more, but I think the day, the field, it suits the way (the Rapids) play," said Vanney. "They like the ball up in the air, they like to compete for first and second balls. On a day when the field is a little bit slippery and bouncy and unstable, it suits a little bit their style, but at the end of the day, I thought, we were OK."

The Reds received a scare in the 25th minute when Altidore required attention after taking a boot to the back of the leg. The forward briefly left the game, but returned in the 29th minute.

Spanish midfielder Ager Aketxe made his TFC debut in the 73rd minute, subbing in for Marco Delgado.

"You can tell he's very comfortable on the ball," Vanney said of Aketxe. "He's got a very good sense of how many touches to play in. He can find good areas of the field. He knows where his teammates are.

"I thought he had a couple actions that showed kind of his vision to find players who are trying to break lines and sliding behind the back line."

Jonathan Osorio opened the scoring last week in the 55th minute before Giovinco scored 18 minutes later off a well-timed cross from newcomer Auro.

Dhiren Mahiban, The Canadian Press

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