CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SEMI FIRST LEG REACTION
On Tuesday night Toronto FC took an important and significant step to reach the CONCACAF Champions League final by putting a 3 – 1 win in the bank over Club América in dire conditions more suited to Scotland than BMO Field.
Goals from Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Ashtone Morgan made the difference, ensuring that Toronto have a lead to defend in Mexico for the return leg in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca on April 10th.
Club América manager Piojo Herrera was apoplectic after the game, accusing Toronto police of assaulting three members of his squad during a halftime fracas in the tunnel between the field and the locker rooms, he then criticised referee Bejarano at length in his post-game press conference, for that decision as well as their general conduct, calling them “clowns” who weren’t up to the grade for a match of that magnitude.
“They influenced us from the beginning,” said Piojo of the referees, speaking via a translator. “When they came into our locker room to check our players [pregame], they said they had to change the color of the underpants [tights] because they were black. So I had a feeling that from the start, they were conditioned by the referee, who in my opinion was not of the level of this semifinal.”
Herrera wanted striker Jozy Altidore cautioned for persistent infringement, adding that “hopefully there will be no unfair penalties” in the second leg in Estadio Azteca, which will be overseen by Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov, his presence occurring as part of an exchange initiative between the CONCACAF and Asian Football Confederations.
“We have to pay more attention,” said the former Mexican international team coach. “In tonight’s game Altidore did eight or nine fouls and there was no card. And my player Guido [Rodriguez] was very frustrated and gets a yellow card. I hope for the second game the referee won’t make those questionable calls and that he will be a little bit more impartial.”
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney witnessed the incident in the tunnel referenced by Herrera and had a different take on events.
“I was front and centre, and I saw everything,” he said after the game. “I’m not really going to digress into ‘he said, she said.’ All of that, I think, will play itself out here in the next couple of days. I would disagree with him [Herrera], strongly. Just in defence of the Toronto police, I’m going to disagree with him strongly, because that’s not what happened.”
“One of their coaches took exception to, I think, the PK, was having a go at Sebastian, and Sebastian kept walking,” said Vanney, “and Johnny [Osorio] stepped in between the assistant coach and Sebastian. I told the coach and the head coach that his coach shouldn’t be talking to our players, he needs to keep moving. And the next thing was an elbow from said coach – [the] assistant coach who was talking – into Johnny’s nose. And if you want to see Johnny’s nose, you can take a picture of it if you want. And then it escalated from there.”
Rundown can’t help but look forward to the return leg.
ZLATAN TURNS DOWN $100 MILLION BOUNTY
He’s still making headlines isn’t he?
With LA Galaxy already having three designated players in their squad (Romain Alessandrini and the dos Santos boys), Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract can only be worth a maximum of $1.5 million per season after his contract was bought down with Targeted Allocation Money.
Also on the table was an offer from the Chinese Super League said to be worth $100 million but LA Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski he had a six meetings with Ibrahimovic in Europe and another in Los Angeles before an agreement was made in principle four months ago.
As an added note, to an added note, of course Zlatan was voted the Alcatel Major League Soccer Player of the Week for his 19-minute shift against Los Angeles FC.
BEN ARFA WELCOME
Having read a post on Hatem Ben Arfa’s Instagram account indicating he will be departing Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the European season, Montreal Impact coach Remi Garde has been quick to fan flames of Ben Arfa joining MLS.
“We know each other very well,” Garde said in a media scrum following training as reported by MLSsoccer.com. “If Hatem is coming to MLS, he is welcome here.”
Ben Arfa and Garde worked together at Lyon, before the French international’s career took him to Marseille, Newcastle United, Hull City, Nice and PSG. Recently PSG’s Dani Alves was reported to have requested that Ben Arfa be restored to the first team squad but his pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
Rundown does not question that Hatem Ben Arfa has the talent and the guile to be a real crowd favourite in Montreal or any other MLS franchise but there is also interest from Leicester City for the Frenchman to replace Riyad Mahrez, should the Algerian move on.
HOMEGROWN IN VANCOUVER
Vancouver Whitecaps have announced that goalkeeper Sean Melvin has signed a Homegrown Player contract for 2018, with options for 2019, 2020 and 2021.
The Canadian stopper has previously been on the books of Vancouver’s USL affiliate Fresno FC and will join the Whitecaps’ first team squad upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC). Melvin is the second ‘Caps Homegrown signing of the year, following David Norman Jr.
“Sean is another product of what we’re trying to build with our development system here in the club,” said head coach Carl Robinson in a club statement. “He approaches his craft with the right mentality and work ethic, and it has shown in his improvement over the years. He will complement our goalkeeper union as he continues to learn.”
Melvin is a full Canadian international, having taken part in a 4-2 friendly triumph over Bermuda in January 2017.
Any Other Business…
New York Red Bulls defender Kyle Duncan has a torn ACL in his right knee and will have surgery to repair the tear in the coming weeks.
Thank you for reading the MLS Rundown, a twice-weekly column focused on news, rumours and transfers. If you would like to connect with the writer, please do so on twitter @CT_MLS