CONCACAF Betting Lines - Toronto FC versus Real Esteli FC

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

By  Scott Cooley

Soccer Betting Online: It wasn’t the dominating victory some members of the Toronto media were looking for, but a win’s a win.

Joao Plata came off the bench to score twice as the Reds defeated Real Estelí 2-1 on Wednesday as hefty -350 moneyline favorites at home. They failed to cover the CONCACAF betting lines 1.5-goal spread however.

The first round of the Champions League tournament is played as a home-and-away, aggregate-goal series. These teams will meet again Tuesday in Nicaragua on Esteli’s home field -- Estádio Independência.

Plata is just 19 years old and has loads of talent. He perfectly suits Aron Winter’s 4-3-3 system and if the little lightning bug can integrate with the new pieces on the roster, TFC will be a tough out the last two months of MLS play.

The Reds continued to deal in the trade market Thursday, shipping defender Dan Gargan to Chicago for defender Dasan Robinson and a second-round pick in next year’s MLS draft. Robinson is the 11th player acquired by TFC since First Kick.

"Dasan brings us depth and versatility because he can play central defense or right back.” Winter said.

Other new faces on the squad include Dutch international Danny Koevermans, Jamaican player Ryan Johnson and Torsten Frings of Germany. Match lineups have been in flux with all the new members.

The Toronto defense has been a problem throughout the MLS season (41 goals in 23 games) and it might have cost the team advancement to the Group Stage on Wednesday.

After dominating possession 71 percent to 29 percent all night, the Reds failed to finish well and gave up a goal in the 81st minute. The miscue really fell on the shoulders of backup goalkeeper Milos Kocic. After securing the ball, he bobbled it and Alesandro Calero collected the rebound and put it in the back of the net for an easy score.

Since this is an aggregate-goal series, that score was a backbreaker as it gives Estelí a chance Tuesday. TFC now has a slim, one-goal advantage heading into this match. If Estelí wins 1-0, then they would reach the Group Stage because they scored an away goal which serves as the tiebreaker.

Kocic was starting between the pipes for the first time this season in place of Stefan Frei. Frei was out with a hand injury but it will be curious to see if he plays in Saturday’s league match against Portland. He said before Wednesday’s game that MLS play was priority.

The West Coast swing through Portland will put TFC in a precarious travel situation. This Champions League match will mark the Reds third game of six over a span of 18 days. After flying to Oregon and then down to Central America, they will have logged nearly 5,200 air miles and adjusted to three different time zones in five days.

Real Esteli FC was founded in 1960 and is the three-time defending Nicaraguan Clausura champion. The club has won 10 league titles during its rich history and has finished in the top 5 of Nicaragua's top division every year since 1986. Notable players on the current squad include Wilber Sanchez, Samuel Wilson, Rudel Calero and Felix Rodriguez.

The winner of this two-leg series will earn a spot in Group C of the Champions League along with Pumas UNAM, Tauro FC and the winner of the FC Dallas-Alianza Preliminary Round series.

The MLS betting lines for the first match in this series moved drastically. TFC opened as -265 chalk but were laying odds of -350 by kickoff. The line for Tuesday’s game will be released by BookMaker sportsbook over the weekend.

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