In the opening leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal Wednesday, Toronto FC and Santos Laguna played to a 1-1 draw. While TFC will rue some key chances that might have led to a result, they have to be satisfied on some level with gritting out a stalemate in the first match, much like they did in the corresponding leg at home against the LA Galaxy in the quarterfinal round. For Santos, they will have to like their chances heading into the next leg, as 90 minutes against TFC will give them time to get a thorough scouting report for the return leg. Considering their away goal, they will also have to consider themselves the clear favorites to advance.
Both goals in the match came in the first half, as Herculez Gomez opened the scoring in the 30th minute off a long pass from Darwin Quintero. Although TFC goalkeeper Milos Kocic had a terrific game and made several key stops, he had no chance on the goal, and the visitors were up. But Toronto leveled the score in the 37th minute when defender Miguel Aceval hit a well-placed free kick past Santos keeper Oswaldo Sanchez.
While there were several solid chances in the second half, Terry Dunfield's miss in the 72nd minute might haunt TFC the most. Dunfield received the ball right in front of goal, but he was surprised by the ball's placement and sent it wide of goal. They also couldn't capitalize when Santos defender Osmar Mares was shown a straight red card in the 77th minute following a collision with Richard Eckersley. While both players went into the challenge hard, Mares raked his boot up Eckersley's leg all the way up to his hip.
The physical nature of the match reared its ugly head after the final whistle, as a scuffle broke out between both teams and Quintero got a red card. While it is great to see the passion and pride between both teams, it put a dent on an evenly-fought match on the night. Hopefully they can channel their anger into their performances in the return leg in Torreon in a week's time, where a place in the CCL finals is on the line.