Toronto FC 'not happy' with simply qualifying for Champions League final
MEXICO CITY -- Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley and head coach Greg Vanney believe that defeating Club America in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League will count for nothing if they don't go on to win the competition.
"We didn't sign up to this tournament to get to the final, we signed up to this tournament to try to win it," said Vanney in a news conference after the match.
"We are not happy with just being in the final.
"We have another very good team in Chivas Guadalajara [to play in the final] ... we have to find our way through that one to win the championship, so we're not done and not happy just with where we are. We have a lot of work to do."
Toronto drew 1-1 on Tuesday in Estadio Azteca against Las Aguilas to advance 4-2 on aggregate and set up a final against Liga MX side Chivas.
"There is confidence in our group," said U.S. international midfielder Bradley after the game.
"We're a team that has been together on a lot of big nights and we trust in ourselves in the way that we play and so it's not necessarily a big surprise to us that we are where we are."
Vanney said he was disappointed his team gave up a late equalizer against Club America and couldn't win inside Estadio Azteca, but was pleased with his team overall.
"I'm proud of my group," he said. "We understand how good the teams we were able to get past are. How good [quarterfinal opponent] Tigres is and how good America is."
"We have a ton of respect for those teams. We did what we had to do over the course of the four matches to win.
"I'm super proud of our guys. We have a no excuses policy in our building and our club. You have to get it down and do what it takes."
Toronto striker Jozy Altidore left the field with an injury in the seventh minute of the game against Club America, but Vanney seemed confident that the 28-year-old would be fit for the final against Chivas.
"I think so, I hope so," Vanney said. "It was extremely unfortunate. I think he hit a shot in the warm up, landed awkwardly.
"I don't know if he rolled an ankle or something in his foot. He thought he could get going and get through it, unfortunately he couldn't."
Toronto is bidding to become the first MLS club to win CONCACAF's club championship since 2000 and Bradley believes his team's run has been good for the CCL after a period of domination from Mexican teams.
"I think to have a really good tournament you have to have a lot of good teams," said Bradley. "You can't just have the same Mexican teams every single year winning.
"And obviously there have been some difficult moments for MLS teams in this tournament.
"I think as the league grows and improves you start to see teams that are built for nights like this and obviously with all that you still have to play in the moment, [need] a little bit of luck in the right moments, make big plays in the right moments.
"There is no magic formula. This has all the makings of an incredible tournament. I think this year with some of the match-ups, games and the rivalries it's been a lot of fun."
Club America coach Miguel Herrera made headlines ahead of the series with comments arguing Liga MX is a stronger league than MLS, and then through his accusations that police in Toronto hit his players at half-time in the first leg. But after Tuesday's game the former Mexico manager cut a much more measured figure.
"I thought we started the game well," said Herrera in a news conference. "I'm frustrated about not achieving the objective, but calm because the team tried everything.
"It is a failure because we couldn't achieve the objective."
The first leg of the final will be played in Toronto on April 17, with the decisive second leg on April 24 in Guadalajara.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.