TORONTO FC (2) – CLUB LEÓN (1) POST GAME SUMMARY
2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 – Second Leg
TFC – Patrick Mullins 55’ (Jacob Shaffelburg)
TFC – Justin Morrow 71’
LEO – Fernando Navarro 80’ (Yairo Moreno)
TFC – Marky Delgado 44’ (caution)
LEO – Yairo Moreno 70’ (caution)
TFC – Richie Laryea 72’ (caution)
TFC – Ralph Priso 74’ (caution)
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- Luke Singh made his first start for Toronto FC.
- Jordan Perruzza made his Toronto FC debut.
- Dating back to the 2018 tournament, TFC have now eliminated three of the last four Liga MX teams they have met in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.
- Toronto FC advance to the quarterfinals of the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League where the team will face Mexican side Cruz Azul over two legs.
TORONTO FC – Alex Bono; Richie Laryea, Omar González, Luke Singh, Auro Jr.; Michael Bradley (C), Ralph Priso (Griffin Dorsey 76’), Marky Delgado, Noble Okello (Justin Morrow 66’), Jacob Shaffelburg (Nick DeLeon 60’); Patrick Mullins (Jordan Perruzza 60’)
Substitutes Not Used: Quentin Westberg, Liam Fraser, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty
CLUB LEÓN – Rodolfo Cota; José Ramírez, Jaine Barreiro, Osvaldo Rodríguez (Yairo Moreno HT), William Tesillo; Santiago Colombatto (Nicolás Sosa 76’), Fernando Navarro, Jean Meneses; Ángel Mena (Jesús Godínez 75’), Víctor Dávila (Emmanuel Gigliotti HT), Luis Montes (C)
Substitutes Not Used: Alfonso Blanco, Andrés Mosquera, Fernando González
CHRIS ARMAS – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Q. A famous victory given the circumstances. Can you give us your thoughts on your team’s play tonight, and I know it’s a small sample size, but what do you think this bodes for the rest of the season, given the performance?
Well, the locker room right now is electric because there’s a lot of belief that the players gain from experiences like that. If you were inside of the locker room, you’d see all the veteran players, Pozuelo, Jozy, rallying around the young guys that stepped up in a big way tonight.
Listen, how it bodes for the rest of the year, I can only say what I have said, that there’s a togetherness, there’s a playing style that players are sticking to, that they’re believing in, they’re experiencing some success, and I think it’s empowering that we can be dangerous when we have the ball and when we don’t have the ball.
Obviously, we’re just getting started, but there’s also a no-excuse mentality in that locker room. It would have been easy to go to México and start making excuses about this, that and the other, but just really proud of the team tonight and to be part of this organization, and yeah, what an effort tonight. Whether we took it to them, what an effort.
Q. Big performance from a lot of players for you guys tonight. Alex Bono was a guy that didn’t see a ton of minutes last year. What did you see from him, and in particular that big save late?
Well, I think it was clear. He made some big saves, took care of all the moments he should have taken care of, and then makes a couple of big ones. But he looked really sure of himself in distribution, in crosses and all the handling. Just a real mature, solid performance, and you love when your goalkeeper can help the team and reward himself with some really big saves late. He was a big presence in there, did a nice job. I’m happy for him.
Q. Playing competitive matches as opposed to preseason friendlies is obviously going to the team in much better shape, playing meaningful games. Do you feel this is going to give you a little competitive advantage now at the start of the season? I guess you won’t know until you hit the pitch, but is that what you’re thinking just from what you’ve seen from the guys, that they’re a different level from what some of the other teams might be?
Yeah, I think it’s a good question, but you think about having to prepare for these types of matches early on, there’s positives and negatives, right? We’re forced to push the envelope, right? We’re representing Canada in this tournament. We have that privilege, and we have to go to México with difficult circumstances. There’re certain things that are working against us.
But as we’ve tried to push the intensity of training each day and each week, we’ve had some injuries along the way, right, so it just — as much as you get this playoff-type mentality early on, which is a big plus, we’ve taken some hits, too, along the way. But we’ve made no qualms about we’re going after it, so we were going to push. I think we prepared the team, and the guys deserve that credit. What an effort.
But yes, either way, we internally, from Bill Manning, Ali Curtis, we said we’re going to go after this tournament, but as the head coach I’m in on that and driving that messaging and pushing it every day, I was expecting momentum after this, win, lose, the momentum that would carry into the MLS season, especially getting young players valuable minutes, this is going to help us moving forward.
PATRICK MULLINS – FORWARD, TORONTO FC
Q. Big win for the side tonight. Can you take us through your thoughts on the match and what the emotions of the celebration we got a little glimpse of there? How are you feeling?
Sure, yeah, we left León last week, and I think that’s when this match started up. It was halftime, and we had an amazing week of preparation where we really focused on us and how we could be dangerous. I think we also wanted to be really tough to play against, and I think that’s what we saw tonight.
We came out in the first half against a team that we knew was talented and created chances, and we wanted to really put them under pressure and do that in a synchronized way where we’re all together and causing turnovers and trying to be dangerous once we do get the possession level.
I think you saw that throughout the first half and I think even into the second half it became even more difficult for them to deal with and dangerous, which you saw how it led up to our goals.
My goal, just — things happened very quickly in that goal. Jacob is a player who I feel like we’ve trained similar movements like that all the time off of starting attacks, and then once the ball was in the net, a lot of things hit me. But then I heard Michael come over and say, “That’s for the Mullins family.” Then things really came down to earth to me. I had lost my grandmother this past week, so I had very much had a heavy heart in this game, and I think the team supported me so much through that loss of my family.
Once again, in that moment, in that goal, in a big game, that meant a lot to me, and then just to see how we continued on the last 20 to 25 minutes, even when it got close there at the end, I think once again, it just shows where our group is at now and kind of a little taste of what we can do when we put it all together and as we move forward now with the MLS season starting this weekend, and now of course we’ll be into the next round here.
Q. A lot of the young players, the young talent really put their hand up tonight and also in León last week. Can you just tell us a little bit about what you saw from these youngsters the last two games?
I saw a group of players that not only stepped up in this moment, they embraced it. They shined in that moment.
We’ve been seeing their qualities ever since they’ve been with us in training in this preseason, and I think we all had belief in what we could do as a group when they were all on the pitch, so we saw what Ralph does tonight and covering ground and turning balls over and being kind of the start of our attacks, and then Luke Singh anchoring us down in the back, making plays, blocking crosses. I already talked about Jacob Shaffelburg, some of the success he has, and Noble, when he’s on the ball and he’s getting touches, I think it excites our team.
So I think we saw in their performances from the guys who started and the guys who came in, too, that we have quality players, and I think we have hungry players that are just wanting to get started and keep showing what they can do on these types of stages.
Q. Sort of building off what you said there about Luke Singh, can you take us into the locker room before the match? Was there any sort of advice anyone was giving him, and how commendable was his story tonight making his first career start?
Well, we were all just so happy for him because, as I said before, we had been seeing these types of levels that he’s been hitting in training, and I think we all had a lot of belief in him to step up into the lineup tonight. I think he started the game well, and that continued on throughout the rest of the night.
Everything that I saw from him in the buildup to this game I think is a great credit to him to be ready for his moment and to take it, and he absolutely did. I think everyone was just so happy to congratulate him on his first start, and obviously he made the appearance last week in León. It must be an amazing feeling for him tonight.
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