Toronto FC with a tall task following Cruz Azul first leg loss

Toronto FC head coach Chris Armas. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto FC head coach Chris Armas. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports /

Toronto FC is in a hole, the MLS side losing 3-1 at home on Tuesday night to Cruz Azul. The result puts Toronto FC in a hole for the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League meeting with the Mexican giants next week.

On a side note, it was a lousy night in CCL play for home teams, with Atlanta United losing 3-0 to the Philadelphia Union.

Now it sets up for a tall task next week at Cruz Azul, never an easy place to play. Down 3-1 and conceding three road goals makes it quite a difficult set-up for Toronto FC and head coach Chris Armas.

It wasn’t a poor performance for undermanned Toronto FC, who had an edge in possession (54.8 percent) but was outshot (22:10) and were down to Cruz Azul in shots on goal as well (5:2).

“Look, when you talk about drastic changes, are you talking about personnel? Is it tactics?” Armas said after the match.

“We have a core group. We have our guys. We understood clearly what the game would look like. The interesting thing is when you can put yourself in position to win second balls, we can secure the first pass, you can catch Cruz Azul he other way.

“At times we did that. That’s strategy and game-planning stuff but it still has to come down to more urgency, more competing, anticipating – reactions, again, all over the field so you can create more transition moments by just sniffing out enough plays.”

Armas did a masterful job in the Round of 16, earning matching 2-1 wins against Mexican club Leon to advance in the tournament. Now, they will have to go on the road again in Mexico and earn another win to keep any hope of advancing in the Champions League.

A beautiful strike from outside the box in the match’s third minute by Bryan Angulo put Cruz Azul up top. The other two goals, both off set pieces, came in the first half.

“We’ll have to be much more tight on set pieces, right? I’ve been part of stretches like this when something is not quite right. We’ll put players in situations to succeed – we’ll get that part right,” Armas said.

“There were no secrets, they can play. It’s something you don’t realize how good that team is, they’ve not lost much this last year.

“Not a lot of room for error. We’ll make some changes, probably some structural changes to put ourselves in some sports…we’ll take the next days to think about it.”

Follow Kristian Dyer of ‘MLS Multiplex‘ on Twitter @KristianRDyer