• Tuesday Aug 23, 2011

    Dallas, Toronto seek more than bragging rights

    By Dylan Butler

    Two familiar foes will clash Wednesday night with much more than bragging rights on the line.

    The winner of the CONCACAF Champions League match between Major League Soccer rivals Toronto FC and FC Dallas would move alone atop Group D after both teams claimed all three points from their openers last week.

    FC Dallas made a lot more noise with its victory, 1-0 against Pumas UNAM, because the "Hoops" became the first MLS team to win a competitive match on Mexican soil, breaking a 24-game winless streak.

    "We are the first to beat a good Mexican team in Mexico," FC Dallas coach Schellas said. "I hope that more MLS teams will have the same courage to play good soccer and I hope that we can continue to find success here."

    Now the challenge for FC Dallas is to head north to BMO Field and collect a win against a Toronto FC squad that defeated Tauro 2-1 in Panama City on first-half goals by Canadian internationals Ryan Johnson and Julian de Guzman last week.

    Interestingly, both teams lost in MLS on the weekend.

    FC Dallas, which lost 1-0 at home to fellow CONCACAF Champions League foe Seattle Saturday, also appears to have lost defender George John to a move to English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers.

    The 24-year-old, who has United States and Greek citizenship, has left for Athens to obtain a Greek identification card to begin the process for a British work permit.

    "George flew to Greece [on Monday] to take care of passport issues," Dallas president and CEO Doug Quinn said in a statement. "We are talking to Blackburn about a possible transfer, but no deal is finalized at this time."

    Meanwhile, Toronto hit a pair of posts in a 2-0 loss at Chicago on Sunday.

    "That's football," coach Aron Winter told MLSsoccer.com. "At the moment you unlock, then those balls are going to go in. But at that moment, like today when you hit the post twice, often the ball comes back for a rebound and you get a chance for a shot on goal, but it didn't go in the goal."

    Toronto has won only once in 10 matches against Dallas since it began play in MLS, their very first meeting in 2007 at BMO Field, 4-0. Since then Dallas has won six of nine and Toronto has scored only six goals.

    In the other Group C match, Pumas still hasn't recovered from its opening loss to Dallas, following with their first Mexican Apertura defeat this season, 2-1 to Puebla on Sunday.

    Alan Zamora and American international DaMarcus Beasley put Puebla up 2-0 less than 25 minutes into the match and things went from bad to worse for Pumas in the 37th minute when David Cabrera was sent off.

    Much has been made of Pumas' policy of using a very young starting 11 against Dallas, including three teenagers and a pair of 20-year-olds. It is unlikely that manager Guillermo Vasquez will drastically alter his plans.

    Pumas will look to bounce back Thursday night at Estadio Rommel Fernandez against Tauro, which defeated San Francisco 1-0 and sit in a three-way tie atop the Panamanian league standings with Arabe Unido and Sporting SM.

    Having already lost at home to Toronto, Tauro probably will need to consider Wednesday's game a must-win. It has won only one of its last seven matches in the Champions League, against Marathon in the second leg of last year's Preliminary Round, which is also its only away victory in six tries.

     

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