MLS’s long-sought quest to end Mexico’s dominance in the Concacaf Champions League will continue for another year after Toronto FC’s gallant effort Wednesday in Guadalajara fell agonizingly short with defeat to Chivas in a penalty kick tiebreaker.
The Canadian side won the second leg of the finals, 2-1, on goals by Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, leveling the aggregate (3-3) and the away-goal tiebreaker (2-2). Tournament guidelines did not allow for extra time, so the match was settled on penalty kicks, won by Chivas, 4-2. Michael Bradley skied his attempt in the fourth round, clinching Chivas’s first regional championship since 1962.
The added reward is a trip to the FIFA Club World Cup in December in the United Arab Emirates.
A Mexican team has won 13 consecutive Concacaf titles. An MLS club hasn’t raised the trophy since the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2000 and has never gone to the Club World Cup. (The 1998-99 winner, Mexico’s Necaxa, represented the region in the 2000 Club World Cup.)
Toronto was just the third MLS side to advance to the finals since the group format was implemented in 2008-09. Real Salt Lake (2011) and the Montreal Impact (2015) also lost at the end to Mexican foes.
Toronto seemed poised to break the league’s long drought after eliminating Mexican teams Tigres and Club America in the previous two rounds. A week after losing the first leg of the finals 2-1 at home, TFC fell behind in the 19th minute on Orbelin Pineda’s goal. But Altidore answered in the 25th minute and Giovinco found the near corner in the 44th.
In the second half, Toronto’s Marky Delgado could have won it in the dying moments but drove a clear, nine-yard one-timer over the crossbar.
In the tiebreaker, while Chivas was perfect on all four attempts, Toronto’s Jonathan Osorio hit the crossbar in the second round and Bradley missed high in the fourth.