The Rapids hadn’t even been called in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League draw this evening in Miami, and we already knew where they were headed. After several Central American and Caribbean clubs were drawn against clubs from Mexico, the only remaining option left for the Rapids was Toronto FC.
That is because CONCACAF teams are precluded from playing teams from the same nation in the first round. Toronto was the only team left for us.
Toronto earned a berth in the CCL by being the 2016 Canadian Championship winners, but in the months since then, they’ve added the 2017 Canadian Championship, the 2017 Supporters Shield, and 2017 MLS Cup to their trophy case. And yet, Toronto was probably the best possible option for the Rapids to draw.
The four Liga MX teams in pot 1 who might have been the Rapids opponents are all rounding into midseason form by the time they would face the Rapids in February. Meanwhile MLS teams are still shaking off the cobwebs and getting into basic fitness during MLS preseason. Toronto and Colorado start off on somewhat level footing as they will both be coming out of pre-season for their two leg encounter against each other, taking place over the last two weeks in February.
Add to that the possibility that Toronto might be experiencing a bit of a Championship hangover after claiming MLS Cup in early December, and you have cause to believe that Toronto was tha best possible draw for the Rapids.
On the other hand, nobody in their right mind would take the vaunted TFC offense for granted. Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley, and Victor Vasquez put the hurt on a lot of MLS teams last year, breaking records in overall points, goals scored, and goal differential en route to their 2-0 win in MLS Cup against Seattle Sounders. The Rapids drew the best possible opponent, but still are significant underdogs to advance after two legs.
Additionally, TFC is a team we play regularly in MLS. It would have been fun to take on a big name Liga MX club on our home turf, even if it likely would have turned DSGP into Little Mexico City or Monterrey North for a night, as local Mexican fans would almost certainly pack DSGP To catch a rare glimpse of their favorite team from their childhoods. Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants fans have done the same at Coors Field for two decades now. If the Rapids want a shot at one of the Mexican juggernauts, they’ll need to beat the Canucks first.
The Rapids all-time are 6-2-8 (WTL) against Toronto FC. Seven of those Rapids losses came at BMO Field, though, so Colorado fans have reason for optimism when we play the first leg here at Dick’s Sporting Goods Field.
The first leg match will take place between February 20 and 22 here in Colorado, while the second leg will happen between February 27 and March 1.
UPDATE: The first leg will be on February 20 here at DSGP at 8 pm, and the second leg will be on February 27 in Toronto at 6 pm.