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CCL: Toluca takes advantage, draws in San Jose

San Jose scored in the stoppage time to earn a draw against Toluca FC.
San Jose scored in the stoppage time to earn a draw against Toluca FC.Mexsport

Mexican side Toluca FC walked away with an important draw on the grounds of the Buck Shaw Stadium in Northern California in the home-leg of the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. The 1-1 is valuable for the chorizeros because it is an away goal that could mean the difference between advancing to the semifinals, or being eliminated from the competition.

Toluca played a defensive game against the MLS side, being cautious at all times. They gave up majority possession of the ball to the Earthquakes, team that was not able to take advantage of the gift from the La Liga MX team. Despite keeping control of the ball, it was the red devils who scored first.

Raul Nava, who leads the current champion’s league tournament, broke the net in the 67th minute of play. A defensive error by the quakes allowed Nava to recover the ball and fire it past goalkeeper Jon Busch, who could only look at the ball bury itself into his net to bring San Jose to 269 minutes without conceding a goal in CONCACAF to a close.

The home side did not give up and continued to keep control of the ball trying to get on the board. When it looked like Toluca would be taking the win home, Alan Gordon elevated himself above the Toluca defense to head the ball past goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera in stoppage time for the 1-1.

San Jose let go of a good opportunity to take an advantage into next week’s game in Toluca. The Mexican squad had decided to play a “defend and counter” game that allowed the quakes to make most of the attacks. A distraction on defense cost them the game.

Despite not losing, the game can be considered a loss since they will have to travel to the Nemesio Diez stadium where the chorizeros have not lost in their last 12 games in all competitions. What is worse for San Jose is that Toluca has outscored their opponents 32-6 in those 12 games.

Toluca managed the game well and return to their home turf of “La Bombonera” with an advantage. With Raul Nava firing on all cylinders, it almost looks like a “shoe in” for the chorizeros. But Jose Saturnino Cardozo’s team cannot count San Jose for dead. MLS teams play their heart out to the final minute. A 2-2 can put the quakes into the semifinals.

The return leg is scheduled to take place on the grounds of the Nemesio Diez on Wednesday Mar. 19, 2014.

Monday’s game:

LD Alajuelense of Costa Rica drew 0-0 against Panama’s Deportivo Arabe Unido to kick off the quarterfinals on Monday, Mar. 10, 2014 at the Alejandro Morera Soto Stadium in Costa Rica. The draw gives the Panamanians the advantage into next week’s game at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City, Panama.