By CALEB SONNELAND
Despite its struggles in league play, Toronto FC was able to rally around the play of Joao Plata to record a 2-1 win over Nicaraguan outfit Real Estelí at BMO Field in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Coming off the bench in the second half, Plata recorded a brace to seemingly put the hosts in cruise control, however the Reds couldn't keep the clean sheet and allowed what could be a critical away goal just nine minutes from full time.
The visiting goal came after a goalkeeping error from Milos Kocic. The Serbian goalkeeper slid out to meet a seemingly harmless ball inside his area, but Kocic somehow managed to roll over the ball, presenting Estelí the perfect opportunity to take possession and slot into an empty net.
The eventual game-winning came from Plata in the 72nd minute from a beautifully struck free kick about 25 yards from goal. The perfect combination of power and bend saw the ball fly straight into the near post of Estelí keeper Carlos Mendieta's goal.
Plata had previously given Toronto the lead in the 56th minute after forcing his way in on goal from the left before poking post an onrushing Mendieta and put his side in front.
SEATTLE FALLS SHORT IN PANAMA
It was just one of those nights for the traveling Sounders, as Seattle fell 0-1 to Panamanian side San Francisco FC on Tuesday night.
It was former Colorado Rapid striker Roberto Brown who downed the visitors from the penalty spot in the 27th minute after Jeff Parke handled the ball in the area.
The Seattle defender lost his footing trying to make a challenge, but, upon doing so, fell atop the ball, thus justifying a penalty for the central referee, who had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
The Sounders did not leave without its fair share of chances on goal, however.
Fredy Montero twice hit the side netting on either side of halftime, Pat Noonan headed into the post and, late in the game, Mike Fucito failed to convert an initial effort at a narrow angle from three yards out nor the follow up while still on the ground.
Despite good chances from both sides, the penalty was the only scoring in the game, and the Panamanians will take a 1-0 lead to an August 3rd showdown in Seattle.