Storylines hasn’t fully recovered from the whirlwind of Friday’s Round of 32 match, but Leagues Cup waits for no one. Our Loons are back home and back in action tomorrow, taking on the mighty Deportivo Toluca F.C. in the Round of 16. Much like when Puebla came to town, Storylines was unfamiliar with these visitors when their name came up on the schedule, but there’s nothing copious amounts of Googling can’t fix.
It doesn’t take much effort to see what a storied club Toluca is. Since their founding in 1917, Los Choriceros (the Sausage-makers) have claimed 10 first-division titles, the third most in Mexican soccer history. The only teams to win more are absolutely legendary clubs in their own right: Club América and Chivas Guadalajara.
On top of their league triumphs, Toluca have enjoyed continental success, winning Concacaf Champions Cup titles in 1968 and 2003. They’ve won the Copa MX twice, in the 1955-56 and 1988-89 seasons. Basically, if these guys have played in a competition, they’ve found a way to win it at some point. They have a history and culture that is built on winning, and they’ve seen some of Mexican soccer’s greatest moments in their stadium.
While so much of Toluca’s history is noteworthy, there isn’t enough time to write a book about everything this club has done. Legendary manager Enrique Meza brought the club into the modern era with a fantastic stint from 1997 to 2000, winning three championships in three years behind the goal scoring efforts of José Saturnino Cardozo. Meza’s offense-heavy style has come to define much of Toluca’s recent history, bleeding into subsequent manager’s plans and making them perennial contenders in the race for the Liga MX title.
While plenty of talented players have come through Estadio Nemesio Díez and gone on to represent their respective national teams on the sports’ biggest stages, much of Toluca’s success has come from their leadership. A history of fantastic managers and club officials has seen the club find sustainable success for decades. While they haven’t won a title since 2010, Los Diablos Rojos have been a mainstay amongst North America’s biggest clubs.
Many MLS fans may have been surprised by Toluca’s dominant Leagues Cup run up to this point, but those familiar with the club haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary. This club is built to score goals; it’s in their DNA. Sure, they might concede as many as they score on occasion, but you can’t win games without hitting the back of the net. Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense.
Whatever surprise factor Los Choriceros had coming into this tournament is long gone. They’ve taken down three MLS sides already, and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. If the Loons want to come out of this one, they’re going to have to turn on the jets and feed Bongi, Mr. Leagues Cup himself.
Minnesota United vs. Deportivo Toluca
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
08.08.2023 | Leagues Cup Round of 16
7:00 p.m. CT (MLS Season Pass, UniMás, FS1)