Why you should care about this series
Participating in a Champion’s League provides a team’s enthusiasts with specific opportunities to observe new groups and learn about new locations, and which can work each instruction. A few weeks ago, in touch upon a preceding column suggesting that SKC shouldn’t prioritize the CCL, I argued that:

 

Even without a CCL title, worldwide publicity through the CCL serves SKC in methods: by way of growing players’ recognition of (and recognize for) Sporting Kansas City as a capacity vacation spot, and with the aid of exposing SKC to gamers, they might be interested in pursuing.

During SKC’s collection with Toluca, I had a laugh digging into that group’s history and press insurance a bit, as I in any other case don’t comply with Liga MX. I additionally watched a maximum of the Toronto/Independiente collection, each to scout the capacity subsequent opponent and because I was just plain interested in the excuse to learn about Panamanian soccer. What follows is my newbie scouting record from looking those video games, tailored from a touch upon the very last sports recap, along side some other studies of the hobby to me and with any luck a number of you.

A Bit About CAI
Against Toluca, SKC had been searching up at a crew with a bigger profile, bigger stadium, and better payroll. The situation is now reversed. Club Atlético Independiente de l. A. Chorrera (CAI) is based totally inside the La Chorrera district of Panama, along with the Pacific Coast a bit west of the canal. Founded in 1982 as a kids sports club, it’s slowly climbed the Panamanian ranks before earning promoting to the pinnacle-level Liga Panameña de Fútbol in 2017 and prevailing its first championship in 2018 (accordingly qualifying for CCL).

CAI performs inside the three,000 seat Estadio Agustín Sánchez, which is about median for a league whose stadia currently range from 500–5500 (with the exception of Tauro’s 32,000). Though they have no website, they’re active on Twitter, with 12,400 fans in comparison to SKC’s 387,000. Keep in mind that Panama’s entire population is roughly two times the scale of the KC metro region, they share that market with nine other pinnacle-degree groups and that they handiest reached the first department lately.

Based on the limited media coverage I ought to discover in Toluca (based totally at the crew’s website and neighborhood newspaper), they didn’t appear to be prioritizing CCL. Panama seems to be taking this pretty a chunk more seriously; a prime newspaper, La Estrella de Panamá (the Panama Star) published a sequence of tales approximately CAI’s collection with TFC, in spite of being a national newspaper with plenty of different groups and events to the cowl. Most of CAI’s roster is Panamanian, except for 3 Colombians, two Venezuelans, and one Honduran, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a sense of unified purpose at the team. The team has been plugging their upcoming domestic recreation in opposition to SKC with tweets like this we need a full house. They additionally simply introduced that kids under 12 get into Wednesday’s game free.

“Scouting” report
Here are my thoughts on CAI as a crew after watching maximum in their preceding collection. I’m not an experienced analyst or player, just a fan, so take something I say with quite a few salts. Translations below are my personal, checked with SpanishDict and Google Translate (the latter in reality struggles with colloquial sports writing so is of confined use). If any reader speaks higher Spanish and sees vital corrections, please comment.

In the primary recreation, my popular effect became that CAI became virtually rapid and had, in reality, precise private ball skills, and repeatedly burned TFC with speedy counterattacks or crisp handling. They’re like a whole group of Gerson, however even fancier. Their goals have been beautiful individual efforts, not careful team buildups. TFC seemed gradual, disorganized, and befuddled; they appeared to be looking to manage the game with ownership; however, couldn’t grasp onto the ball or play together. But I didn’t sense like CAI showed all that much power at ownership or buildup; they had been like bees mobbing a sluggish-witted endure, now not an organized wolf-% methodically taking down a moose.

Roughly, “the Panamanian pressure made it uncomfortable for Toronto to skip the ball and they could not dominate the middle of the sphere.”

Things were quite exclusive inside the 2nd sport, wherein TFC appeared better in terms of controlling the game and ownership and methodically building up an assault. They surely might have been up 2-zero or 3-0 via the half of with higher completing; if you’d given their final touch to a CAI participant, they might have been. CAI seemed more lost in that sport like they didn’t realize what to do after they couldn’t rocket down an open discipline and pull off a video-recreation one-on-one purpose.

But the mixture of centered protection from CAI and TFC’s lack of ability to finish intended that the possession and stress didn’t develop into lots of achievement. I didn’t see CAI’s later intention but got the feel it got here off a turnover and a brief shot, precisely what they appeared nice doing within the first game. Overall, what I noticed of that game seemed greater like an old, toothless wolf p.C. With a sensible plan however a lack of ability to complete off an antelope.

Roughly, “notwithstanding the truth that TFC absolutely dominated the Panamanian team, which came out with the approach of ceding the playing subject and the ball, the previous champion of the USA Professional Soccer League [note: sorry, Canada] could never overcome the strain of the adverse 0-four score they harvested in the first fit.”

Roughly, “the CAI team, with super shielding field and awareness, step by step eased the stress from the Canadian group [note: feel better, Canada?]”

So as for this collection, I’m carefully confident. SKC have appeared ways higher at ownership and ball competencies than TFC to this point, and I assume you are a long way higher geared up to cope with an “indignant bees” group. That being stated, our tendency to press ahead at the wings and the incredibly gradual again line are both warning lights for a CAI team so that it will, in reality, burn any mistake. Melia’s probable to have to make saves on this series in a way that Toluca in no way produced, and the middle backs are going to must have perfect situational recognition. If the first sport is going wrong, it’ll be due to the fact SKC is worn-out or sloppy (or in all likelihood just unfortunate) in their ownership and permit the ones CAI forwards get one-on-one with (or in the back of) the defenders.

I assume it’s going to be relatively entertaining due to the fact both groups appearance risky on offense in absolutely distinct approaches, and CAI makes me frightened in approaches that Toluca never did. Given CAI’s protective posture and counter-attacking electricity, I’m curious if SKC comes out aggressive down in Panama or tries to keep for a road tie, especially given extra put on on the group at this point. But I think SKC has a sturdy superiority in their universal team gadget and if they can preserve that, they need to be satisfactory.

Update: I wrote a maximum of this earlier than Sunday night time’s recreation. Now I’m more involved because Vermes simply set a torch to the starting lineup that was gambling such clean, properly-prepared soccer. Now I have grown worried of a TFC-fashion starting game, with a lineup that either can’t maintain up with CAI (too worn-out without extreme squad rotation) or a lineup that hasn’t performed as a unit these days (too disjointed with critical rotation). Both seemed to be factors in CAI’s dismantling of TFC and that they’re abruptly much more likely than I thought possible; no person noticed Sunday’s lineup coming. It might also just be a quite boring sport if each group play defensively and await errors. That would be too bad for all the lovers who care approximately this unique matchup, and some other casualty of the weird selection to start the total A group in opposition to LAFC.

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