Tag Archives: Leon

Toronto FC earns draw with Club León in 1st leg of CONCACAF Champions League tie

As first impressions go, there was plenty to like Wednesday in Toronto FC’s first outing under head coach Chris Armas.

Despite missing some key personnel and playing its first competitive match since Nov. 24, Toronto held Club Leon to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie.

The Mexican side is in-season and on a good run of late. But it could not put Toronto away despite dominating possession and coming on in waves as the clock wound down.

While the draw came from a second-half Leon own goal, Toronto pressure forced the mistake. And Armas had promised pressure from his team.

“I love the way we stuck together,” said Armas. “I loved the way we stepped on the field and straight away we were going to try to stick to being who we are and be aggressive on the night. That’s what gets us the goal, from a pressing situation.

“I loved the way the guys dug deep, into the second half . Overall a gutsy performance.”

WATCH | TFC, Club León share spoils in 1st leg of round of 16:

Toronto FC and Club León play to a 1-1 draw in the 1st leg of their Round of 16 series as Andrés Mosquera records an own goal. 1:25

A fierce competitor during his playing days as a defensive midfielder, Armas still burns very bright on the sidelines. He celebrated the Leon own goal that brought his team back as if he had hit the jackpot in Vegas.

The Champions League is CONCACAF’s flagship club competition, with the winner advancing to the FIFA Club World Cup against other confederation champions.

Playing on hostile ground, Toronto was without at least five starters. TFC had hinted at health issues in the buildup to the match but, in the closed world of the pandemic, the true extent of the problem did not become clear until the starting lineup was released.

Not dressed were Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, defenders Chris Mavinga and Justin Morrow and midfielders Jonathan Osorio and Nick DeLeon.

Armas started 18-year-old Ralph Priso and 20-year-old Noble Okello in midfield with 21-year-old Jacob Shaffelburg on the wing. The Toronto bench included 20-year-old Jordan Perruzza, 22-year-old Griffin Dorsey and 20-year-old Luke Singh, a TFC 2 defender signed to a short-term deal ahead of the match.

The youngsters did not disappoint and it took a moment of brilliance for Leon to breach the Toronto defence.

Fernando Navarro opened the scoring in the 25th minute with a spectacular right-footed volley from the edge of the penalty box after Jean Meneses eluded fullback Richie Laryea and found Navarro with a delicate chip. A diving Alex Bono got a hand to the ball but the power of the shot carried it in off the post.

Toronto had eight players in its box but none close enough to stop Navarro’s moment of magic.

TFC’s pressure led to an own goal in the 50th minute as the MLS team lived up to Armas’ pre-game promise. He said Toronto would look to make Leon uncomfortable

TFC substitute Erickson Gallardo did just that, demonstrating the aggressive press that Armas has instituted. The 24-year-old Venezuelan winger struggled to make an impression under former coach Greg Vanney and it looked like more of the same when he gave up the ball cheaply soon after coming on to open the second half.

But he made the goal, stealing the ball off William Tesillo before trying to thread it through to Jozy Altidore. A sliding Andres Mosquera got a foot to the ball at the edge of the box, deflecting it over goalkeeper Rodolpho Cota to give TFC a valuable away goal.

‘A great result for us’

A tiring Toronto held on in the dying minutes with Bono blocking a rocket in the 86th minute. TFC and Leon, who had never met before, will play the second leg April 14 in the Orlando area.

“It’s a great result for us but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said centre back Omar Gonzalez, who was immense at the heart of the Toronto defence. “We consider this halftime.”

Leon was without influential captain Luis Montes, serving a suspension after being sent off in last year’s competition against Los Angeles FC. He will be back for the second leg,

Toronto’s lineup is full of question-marks.

The club said Pozuelo stayed in Florida to have what is thought to be a mild strain re-evaluated. Mavinga, Osorio and Morrow were not cleared to play by team doctors while DeLeon was a game-day decision. Westberg was late joining camp for personal reasons.

And the draw may have come at a cost for Toronto.

Altidore came off in the 74th minute after clutching the back of his right leg. The U.S. international has had a history of hamstring issues.

And Gallardo, who came on to start the second half, had to leave in the 75th due to injury. Armas had to throw on Singh in the 87th minute for his first-team debut.

“I said I’m going to play young players,” said Armas. “Look how may played tonight.”

The Toronto-Leon winner will face either Mexico’s Cruz Azul or Haiti’s Arcahaie FC in the quarterfinals. Arcahaie held the visiting Mexicans to a 0-0 draw Tuesday.

Leon came as advertised, shifting the ball around with good passing and movement. But the final ball was often missing or the offside flag went up for the eight-time Mexican champions as they tried to get behind the TFC backline. Toronto also did a good job clogging up space in its own end in the first half.

After a slow start that saw Leon win just two of its first 10 league matches (2-6-2) this year, the Mexican side has returned to form. Leon defeated Toluca 3-1 Sunday to extend its win streak to three and currently stands eighth in the standings at 5-6-2.

TFC opens the MLS season April 17 against CF Montreal in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

It was 29 degrees Celsius at kickoff at Estadio Leon, where Canada lost 1-0 to France in its opening game of the 1986 World Cup. Attendance Wednesday was pegged at 30 percent of the 31,297 capacity.

One can argue TFC also failed to score there. But the MLS side set itself up for a more than a chance in the second leg.

Leon won the Liga MX Apertura Liga MX Guardianes title — named in honour of Mexico’s health-care workers — in December, defeating Pumas UNAM 3-1 on aggregate after a 12-1-4 campaign.

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Canadian Adriana Leon undergoes surgery for broken foot, Olympics in limbo

Canadian international forward Adriana Leon will miss the rest of the FA Women’s Super League season after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured foot.

The English league runs through May 9. There was no immediate word on whether her recovery will stretch into the Tokyo Olympics, whose soccer competition is scheduled for July 21 through Aug. 7.

In a release Tuesday, West Ham said the surgery happened last Friday.

In 18 appearances this season, Leon has picked up one goal and five assists.

She joined West Ham United in January 2019 following a five-year stretch in the National Women’s Soccer League where she was last with the Seattle Reign, who decided not to retain her rights following the 2018 season. 

In between that time, she made the move to Swiss Nationalliga A team FC Zurich Frauen in 2016, where she spent four months before returning to the U.S. to play for the Boston Breakers of the NWSL. 

The King City, Ont. native attended Notre Dame University for her first two years on the Divison 1 level before transferring to the University of Florida for one year. 

The 28-year-old has won 66 caps for Canada with 19 goals and four assists.

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Canadians Osorio, Leon up for top CONCACAF awards

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio are up for CONCACAF male player of the year while Seattle Reign forward Adriana Leon, like Osorio a Canadian international, is nominated for top female player.

Canada women's coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller and under-17 coach Rhian Wilkinson are nominated for women's coach of the year. Toronto FC's Greg Vanney is up for top men's coach.

Toronto FC's Alex Bono is nominated for male goalkeeper of the year while Canadian internationals Stephanie Labbe (Canada senior team), Rylee Foster (under-20) and Anna Karpenko (under-17) are nominated for top female 'keeper.

Canadians Carol Anne Chenard and Marie-Soleil Beaudoin are up for female referee of the year.

Canada's Adriana Leon, who plays for the Seattle Reign of the NWSL, is a nominee for female player of the year. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Toronto FC defender Ashtone Morgan, midfielders Michael Bradley and Osorio and forwards Alphonso Davies, formerly of the Vancouver Whitecaps, and Toronto's Giovinco are nominated for the men's Best XI. Morgan is also a Canadian international.

Canadian international defenders Kadeisha Buchanan, Rebecca Quinn and Olivia Cooke (under-17), midfielders Sophie Schmidt and Jessie Fleming and forwards Christine Sinclair, Jordyn Huitema, Nichelle Prince and Leon are up for the female Best XI.

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Oilers sign Leon Draisaitl to 8-year, $68M extension

The two biggest cornerstones of the emerging Edmonton Oilers franchise are now locked up for the long haul.

Six weeks after extending Connor McDavid for eight years and $ 100 million US, the Oilers signed 21-year-old Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year contract of his own with a sizable annual cap hit of $ 8.5 million. Paired primarily with McDavid, Draisaitl posted a career-best 77 points last season — eighth-best in the NHL.

He added another 16 points during the first Edmonton’s playoff run in more than a decade — separated, eventually, from the precocious Oilers captain.

“I’m really excited to be back for eight years,” Draisaitl told the Oilers website after the signing was announced. “I never really thought about going anywhere else. We have something really special. We have a great group of guys. It’s something I wanted to be a part of as long as possible.”

In securing his long-term rights, the Oilers are betting on Draisaitl, a restricted free agent and one of only seven German NHLers last season, to thrive with or without McDavid, the reigning winner of the Art Ross and Hart trophies and Ted Lindsay Award. The third-overall pick of the 2014 draft, Draisaitl stands to own the 10th highest cap hit in hockey next year — equal to Lightning captain and two-time Rocket Richard trophy winner Steven Stamkos.

Improved depth

Draisaitl’s second NHL deal slightly exceeds recent eight-year pacts handed out to 25-year-old Predators centre Ryan Johansen ($ 8 million cap hit) and 25-year-old Capitals pivot Evgeny Kuznetsov ($ 7.8 million cap hit).

Both were signing their third NHL deals, however, and are slightly older than Draisaitl, who won’t turn 22 until October 27.

Draisaitl, a natural centre, slid to right wing alongside McDavid at the start of December and went on to notch 60 points in 58 games — good for sixth in the NHL over that span.

In question now and moving forward is whether the Oilers keep the two franchise studs together and have them wreak havoc as a duo, or split them apart for increased depth.

Leon Draisaitl signs 8-year contract extension to complete Oilers’ dynamic duo0:36

McLellan went in the latter direction midway through a second-round playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks, and it worked effectively. Draisaitl, centring a second unit, scored once in a Game 5 overtime loss and then exploded for a hat trick and five points in a 7-1 Game 6 thrashing.

He ultimately finished as the Oilers leading playoff scorer, besting McDavid (nine points), who was mostly thwarted in a matchup with feisty American pivot Ryan Kesler.

“It’s interesting, there will be a lot of talk about separating those two now,” McLellan said after Draisaitl’s loud Game 6 before the Oilers fell to the Ducks in Game 7. “But production-wise Connor and Leon were the two best players together from the time we put them together ’til the end of the year. It’s hard to argue with that.”

Expecting a star

Underlying numbers suggest Draisaitl got a not-so-surprising bump from McDavid.

Draisaitl posted a sizzling 54 per cent puck possession mark in 674 five-on-five minutes alongside the 20-year-old and a cooler 48 per cent clip in 500 minutes without him; McDavid’s numbers, by contrast, dropped off only slightly without Draisaitl.

Still, Draisaitl piled up 19 goals and 51 points in 72 games as a 20-year-old during his sophomore season and next to none of that came with a then-rookie McDavid. He also captured the Stafford Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Memorial Cup in 2015. The more recent playoff showing, which saw him matched against Ducks captain and all-star Ryan Getzlaf, offered a potential preview of his NHL readiness for the second-line centre role moving forward.

The Oilers, in that case, stand to benefit from two high-end centres and subsequent matchup headaches for the opposition. Most, if not all, would opt to employ their best defensive weapons against McDavid, leaving Draisaitl free to roast weaker options.

Vying for their first Stanley Cup since 1990, Edmonton is expecting a star regardless.

“Any time you can lock up one of your top players for a lengthy period of time, it’s a good day,” said Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli on the team Twitter account.

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