BAYAMON, Puerto Rico – After improbably scoring six times in one game to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League, Toronto FC bowed out of the tournament without scoring a single goal.
The Puerto Rico Islanders of the second-tier United Soccer Leagues held Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC to a 0-0 draw on Tuesday to advance to the second round with a 1-0 aggregate win in the two-game series.
Toronto came into the game needing some offence after losing 1-0 to the Islanders at BMO Field in the first leg of the series. Toronto had some good scoring chances, particularly Danny Dichio’s shot off the post in the 77th minute, but was unable to beat Islanders goalkeeper William Gaudette.
Toronto advanced to the tournament by winning the Canadian Nutrilitre Championship over the USL’s Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps. They beat the Impact 6-1 in the last game of the tournament – a game they entered needing to win by four goals to advance.
Puerto Rico advanced to the group stage, and will compete in Group C with the Columbus Crew, Deportivo Saprissa and the winner of the CS Herediano versus Cruza Azul preliminary round series.
Cruz Azul was the club that eliminated Puerto Rico in penalties in the semifinals of last year’s tournament.
The Islanders’ defence forced Toronto to rely on long-range shots, which were usually handled comfortably by Gaudette.
A free kick from Ali Gerba from distance in the 16th minute skipped into the box, but Gaudette knocked it wide of goal.
Toronto had a dangerous opportunity in the 29th minute after Marvelle Wynne had driven down into the box, but a scramble in the middle of the area ended with Pablo Vitti’s shot being blocked and cleared.
In the 53rd minute, Gaudette made a great save, knocking a rifled, long range effort from Amado Guevara over the bar.
In the 61st minute, a cross from Guevara found Vitti in the middle, but his header was tipped over the bar at the last second by Gaudette. A minute later Wynne fired a 25-yard shot toward the upper left corner that missed by a few yards.
The Islanders put themselves in danger in the 88th minute when Kendall Jagdeosingh, who scored Puerto Rico’s goal in the first leg, was given a red card and sent off. But TFC was unable to create a late scoring chance with the extra man.
Mexican club Pachuca and DC United of the MLS also advanced to the group stage Tuesday.
Pachuca defeated Jalapa of Guatemala 4-1 to advance 7-1 on aggregate after Ulises Mendivil scored three goals and Christian Gimenez added another in the match at Guatemala. Mario Pineyro converted a penalty for Jalapa’s only goal.
DC United claimed its place in the group stage by winning 5-4 on penalties at Salvador’s Firpo after the match was tied at 1-1 through regulation and extra time. Christian Gomez scored the game-tying goal for DC United in the 42nd minute.
The match last week was a 1-1 draw in Washington.