Soccer  > General Soccer  > Toronto edges Motagua, 1-0, in CCL start
July 29, 2010, 11:10 AM
By Vijay Setlur

TORONTO -- Chad Barrett's first half goal stood up to lead Toronto FC over CD Motagua 1-0 Tuesday, moving the Canadian champion closer to its first appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage.

Toronto now takes a 1-0 advantage in the two-leg Preliminary Round aggregate goal series down to the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa for the second leg Aug. 3.

"It's a great result, it's a positive thing to take a win out of here. It's better than last year when we lost to Puerto Rico," said Barrett. "In Honduras, it's going to be tough and we're going to have to be just as good if not better on their own field as they have the thick grass, they got their fans. It's going to be tough."

The winner will advance to the group stage and join MLS champion Real Salt Lake, Arabe Unido of Panama and the winner of the series between Mexico's Cruz Azul and San Francisco FC of Panama.

The victory makes up for Toronto's first leg loss at home last year in the same stage to USL Division 2's Puerto Rico Islanders in a series the Islanders went on to win.

Motagua qualified as the third team out of Honduras after Honduras received Belize's berth and by virtue of its runner-up finish in the 2010 Clausura.

That was back in early May.

The nearly three-month layoff between competitive matches seemed to impact Honduras' second-most storied club.

Toronto was sharper from the start and it paid off with Barrett's goal in the 20th minute that delighted the unusual less-than-capacity crowd of 18,891 at BMO Field, which doubles as the Canada's national soccer stadium.

Captain and Canadian international Dwayne De Rosario took a quick flick from O'Brian White in the midfield and drove down the right flank. He centered a pass to Barrett, who waited on the ball before sending a left-footer by Motagua goalkeeper Donaldo Morales.

Despite a halftime huddle by captain Amado Guevara, Motagua couldn't get the equalizer by Toronto's defense, which has been shaky of late committing late-game gaffes in its last two MLS matches.

Not even the presence of four starters that represented Honduras at the World Cup made much difference. Defenders Sergio Mendoza and Emilio Izaguirre, midfielder Guevara and forward Georgie Welcome were non-factors - until the last 10 minutes of the game.

Mendoza had a good chance in the 83rd minute, but his header off a corner was stopped by goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Then, Javier Portillo shanked a great centering pass from Welcome two minutes later keeping the score intact.

"It's easy to make excuses. We knew what were our conditions (inactivity) coming into the game," said coach Ramon Maradiaga through an interpreter. "The game now is history and we hope in Tegucigalpa we can turn the series around."

The return of Guevara, who was released by TFC upon the arrival of coach Preki, was a subplot, but the club's fourth all-time leading scorer was a non-factor as Maradiaga took him off at halftime citing poor form.

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